Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan on Sunday blamed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for the ongoing violence and instability in Gaza, The Times of Israel reported.
Erdan went so far as to suggest that Abbas be denied re-entry into the country the next time he travels abroad.
Abbas is “one of the main instigators of violence on the southern border,” Erdan told Israel Radio.
“The one really responsible behind the scenes for all that is happening is Mahmoud Abbas,” he said. “He is the one to move inspectors out of the Rafah Crossing, he is the one sanctioning Hamas in order to pressure Hamas — pressure that is bleeding over to us.”
The Likud minister said it was time to consider sanctions against him. “Maybe we should go as far as to consider one of the next times Abbas leaves not to allow him to come back, because today he makes no contribution to the diplomatic process. He’s only doing damage with his attitude toward Hamas,” he charged.
The PA has for years withheld transfers of tax money to Gaza, while also disrupting fuel supplies and carrying out arrests, all part of a campaign to pressure Hamas into relinquishing control of Gaza.
Last week, the PA announced it would withdraw from the Rafah border crossing with Egypt as another sign of a rift with Hamas after a reconciliation agreement fell apart.
Senior officials close to Abbas say that additional punitive measures are in the pipeline, possibly including removing staff from the crossings between Israel and Gaza, cutting salaries of families of Hamas prisoners or rescinding Palestinian passports of Hamas employees.
“Very important decisions against Hamas are being discussed,” a senior Palestinian official said on condition of anonymity.
Israeli military officials were cited in opposition to cutting aid to Gaza, fearing the violent consequences of an increasingly pent-up population.
Senior Egyptian officials were quoted in a report Thursday in the Qatari al-Araby al-Jadid newspaper as saying that the Israeli defense establishment “is concerned that squeezing the Gaza Strip will turn the attention of the Palestinian factions toward” Israel.