Palestinian Official Denies Abbas Gave in to Egypt

YERUSHALAYIM -

A senior Palestinian Authority official denied earlier reports on Thursday that PA President Mahmoud Abbas gave in to pressure from Egypt for a proposed truce between Hamas and Israel.

The official in Ramallah told The Jerusalem Post that he was unaware of any change in Abbas’s opposition to proposals made so far.

Abbas’s objects because it would provide Hamas with funds supplied by Qatar to pay its terrorists – but even beyond that, it would turn Hamas into an official party to the dispute with Israel, essentially cementing its authority in Gaza. Abbas has for years sought to remove Hamas, so that his PA could return to control Gaza.

“President Abbas agreed with the Egyptian president that there was a need to alleviate the suffering of our people in the Gaza Strip,” the official said. “But President Abbas also emphasized that Hamas was not authorized to reach any agreement with any party on behalf of the Palestinians.”

According to the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi briefed President Abbas during their recent meeting in Sharm el-Shiekh on Egypt’s efforts to achieve “calm” in the Gaza Strip and end the ongoing dispute between Hamas and the PA president’s ruling Fatah faction.

The sources quoted el-Sissi as telling Abbas that the Egyptian efforts were aimed at giving “breathing space” to the residents of the Gaza Strip. Abbas, the sources said, agreed that indeed there was a need to give the residents of the Gaza Strip “breathing space.”

The paper said that the “breathing space” consists of two phases – the first would last two to three weeks and the second six months, and that Abbas gave his assent to the first phase.