In an interview Monday, Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas quashed rumors that he had agreed to implement the “Hezbollah model” in Gaza, in which official government matters would be handled by the Palestinian Authority, while Hamas would be free to act as a militia to fight Israel. “We are prepared to accept all responsibilities regarding Gaza,” he told an Egyptian media outlet. “I call on everyone to unite around the principles that we agree on and rise above their narrow interests. I call on investors to once again invest in Gaza.”
Abbas was speaking hours after he met with Hamas members in Gaza, the first time he had entered the area since Hamas took over the Strip in 2006, for talks on restoring the PA’s authority in Gaza. At the meeting of the new “unified government,” as Abbas termed it in the interview, Abbas’s Fatah and Hamas discussed ways to unite on the governing of Gaza, in a meeting sponsored and promoted by Egypt. No solid decisions were made, but Abbas said that much progress had been made. However, he added, the PA would have to remain the “senior party” in Gaza. That would include weapons that Hamas currently controls, which he said the PA should be in charge of as well.
“We are concentrating on the future,” Abbas said. “We all have made mistakes, we all insulted and vilified each other. Now we are entering a new era. We must forget the past and forget our differences. There is a serious political feud between us and Hamas, and these (sic) will remain. Hamas is an Islamist movement and the United States considers it a terrorist group. Nevertheless they are part of the Palestinian nation.”
In order for the standard of living to improve in Gaza, the international community would have to step up, Abbas said. “The removal of the roadblocks to unity requires the international community to live up to its commitments and rebuild the destruction wrought by the Israeli occupation and to fulfill the needs of residents. I call on the community to pressure Israel to end its collective punishment and remove the blockade from Gaza and open up the checkpoints, and end the occupation.”