Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas reportedly threatened Hamas leaders last week that unless they give the PA full control of Gaza by the end of October, they will face severe consequences.
Recent talks in Cairo between Hamas leaders and high-ranking PA representatives came to an end with little progress, and reports indicate that President Abbas has threatened to terminate all funds to the Gaza Strip if Hamas refuses to cede control.
Last week, Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar said that the PA President intends to stop the transfer of salaries to Hamas clerks if the two sides do not reach an agreement.
Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar told a journalist earlier this week that “a new war is not in the interest of anyone”.
Rival Palestinian factions Hamas, which rules Gaza, and Fatah, the governing party of the PA in the West Bank, signed a reconciliation deal brokered by Egypt in October 2017, after Hamas agreed to hand over administrative control of Gaza to the PA by 1st December. However, in a joint statement on 29th November, Hamas and Fatah requested that Egypt postpone the transfer of responsibility until 10th December and again missed the deadline.
A major issue of contention is the fate of Hamas’s military wing. President Abbas is said to oppose a so-called “Hezbollah model” for Hamas’s role in Gaza, in which Hamas would not be responsible for running civilian affairs but maintained control over its military wing.
Tensions remain high along the Gaza/Israel border, where demonstrators continue to conduct violent protests that include throwing rocks and projectiles at Israel Defense Force (IDF) soldiers.