Fatah-Hamas Split Worsens

YERUSHALAYIM -

The Fatah-Hamas reconciliation agreement of less than a year ago has now degenerated into the most serious split since the violent struggle for control of Gaza between the two factions in 2006.

The Palestinian Authority is considering the possibility of declaring the Gaza Strip a “rebel district,” a senior Fatah official told The Times of Israel on Tuesday.

“Declaring Gaza as a rebel district would mean that the Palestinian Authority will no longer be responsible for anything there,” the official said.

“In a way, it would be like a divorce between the West Bank and Gaza Strip. We hope that this will not happen and that Hamas will wake up and realize that its policies and actions are very harmful and destructive to the Palestinian people and their national project.”

He conceded that such a move would likely precipitate a severe humanitarian and economic crisis in Gaza.

Friction between Fatah and Hamas reached new levels following the attempted assassination of PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah last week, which Mahmoud Abbas blamed on Hamas. The latter has denied involvement.

Earlier on Tuesday, EU Foreign Policy chief Federica Mogherini said that such a split was unacceptable.

“We see it very clearly: The West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza belong together. There is no State of Palestine without Gaza, nor with Gaza alone,” she said at a meeting of donor countries to Gaza. “This is why we expect all Palestinian factions to defy the spoilers and continue on the path of reconciliation, with courage and determination. The situation is extremely fragile.”

Meanwhile, Israel has decided to intervene to stave off further crisis and the violence it would lead to.

To improve conditions, the IDF has decided on the following steps: traders from Gaza will be allowed to enter Israel for business dealings, the amount of fruit and vegetables allowed to be exported from Gaza will be increased, entrance permits to younger Palestinians were granted and increased truck traffic was allowed to enter Gaza through the Kerem Shalom crossing, according to Ynet on Tuesday night.

In addition, Gaza fishermen will be allowed to go out to sea for longer periods of time.