by Yona Schnitzer/TPS
The PA will not allow the Hezbollah model to be copied in Gaza, Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) said in a series of interviews on Tuesday. Speaking to Egypt’s CBC TV network, Abbas rejected the notion that has been raised by some Hamas officials recently that the PA will assume control over civilian aspects of life in the Gaza Strip, while Hamas remains in charge of military operations, similar to the situation with Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Abbas has set forth three main conditions for the reconciliation with Hamas: That there be no foreign involvement or influence in the administration of the Gaza Strip; that all funds be channeled exclusively through the PA government, and finally, the dismantling of Hamas’ military wing. Abbas even went so far as to threaten to throw objectors in jail, regardless of their party affiliation.
While Hamas is able to live with the first two conditions, and may even welcome the transfer of authority and bureaucracy over to the PA after struggling for months with a limited budget, which was cut by 20% on Abbas’ orders earlier this year, the third condition may be a deal breaker.
“Hamas’ military wing is not subject to discussion with the PA,” said Mousa Abu Marzouk, Deputy Head of Hamas’ Political Wing in response to the conditions set by Abbas.
“Its weapons are intended for the defense of the Palestinian people, and as long as the Palestinian people are under occupation, the weapons will continue to be ready for any scenario,” he added.
“Hamas [has made it] very clear that they will remain a ‘resistance’ movement and continue to maintain and develop their military capabilities,” Channel 2 TV’s Arab affairs analyst Ehud Yaari said in a conference call organized by The Israel Project (TIP).
Despite this disagreement, experts are not quick to dismiss the reconciliation efforts, citing Egypt’s involvement as a possible game changer. “This time is different,” Yaari said, “The effort is being conducted in a very different matter than previous reconciliation attempts – The Egyptians brokered the deal and decided to first have the dances, and only afterwards hold the wedding,” he said. “Most weddings only have dancing after the ceremony; the Egyptians want to have them before.”
According to Yaari, the PA’s visit to Gaza is a purely symbolic one and not a practical one where any actual authority will be transferred. Egypt is hoping that these displays of unity will lead to a wide public support of the reconciliation.