PA official: Hamas negotiating to create Palestinian entity in Gaza

Senior Hamas official denies claims they conduct negotiations with Israel, saying “We negotiate with the occupation only through the rifle.”

Palestinian officials claimed over the weekend that Hamas was seeking to establish a separate Palestinian entity in the Gaza Strip.

A Palestinian waves a flag near a destroyed section of the border wall between the Gaza Strip and Egypt. – Photo: REUTERS

The officials also claimed that Hamas was negotiating with Israel about its plan to turn the Gaza Strip into a separate Palestinian entity.

Mahmoud Habbash, the chief Palestinian Authority religious judge, who also serves as PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ advisor on religious affairs, said on Saturday that Hamas’ “plan” to create a separate entity in the Gaza Strip was a “dangerous Israeli conspiracy.”

Habbash claimed that the Israeli “conspiracy” envisages the total separation of the Gaza Strip from the West Bank. “Israel wants to divide the Palestinian people and turn the Palestinian territories into separate entities and cantons,” he said.

Habbash said that Hamas’s plan to slice off the Gaza Strip from the rest of the Palestinian territories was not new. “We have warned against this plan in the past,” he added.

Leaders of various PLO factions also accused Hamas of seeking to create a separate state in the Gaza Strip. They too claimed that Hamas’ purported plan was part of an Israeli “conspiracy” aimed at liquidating the Palestinian cause.

Kayed al-Ghul, a senior official with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), said that the idea of establishing a Palestinian state only in the Gaza Strip was first raised by late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1988. Al-Ghul warned that the “plan” would have serious repercussions for the Palestinians.

Ahmed Majdalani of the Popular Struggle Front, another PLO faction, accused Hamas of working toward establishing an “Islamic emirate” in the Gaza Strip. “There will be no Palestinian state without the Gaza Strip,” he said. He claimed that the late Prime Minister Ariel Sharon proposed the idea about 10 years ago, when he decided to withdraw from the Gaza Strip.

Majdalani claimed that Hamas was negotiating with Israel about the implementation of the purported plan.

Another PLO official, Wasel Abu Yusef, warned that Hamas’ effort to create an “Islamic emirate” in the Gaza Strip would hinder the establishment of an independent Palestinian state and solidify divisions among the Palestinians. He urged Palestinians to work toward scuttling Hamas’ alleged scheme.

Fatah spokesman Ahmed Assaf claimed that Israel and Hamas have already reached understandings regarding the separate state in the Gaza Strip. “This is an Israeli plot designed to eliminate the Palestinian cause,” he argued. “What is the price that Hamas will pay to Israel in return for allowing the movement to establish its mini-state in the Gaza Strip?”

In response, Hamas dismissed the allegations as “false polemics.”

Ismail Radwan, a senior Hamas official in the Gaza Strip, stressed that his movement does not conduct any negotiations with Israel. “We negotiate with the occupation only through the rifle,” he said.


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