Palestinian Affairs

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Abbas and Hamas Trade Recriminations Over Delay in Gaza Reconstruction

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas is falling back on political infighting to deal with the crises facing the Palestinian Authority (PA), accusing rival Hamas of being the cause of Palestinian woes.

Last week, Abbas blamed Hamas for “slowing down” reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, claiming that Hamas prevented the PA from taking over control of Gaza and its border crossings. Abbas also accused  (Arabic link) Hamas of having secret contact with Israel and the United States.

Despite claims of poverty, last week Hamas held a massive parade celebrating its 27th anniversary, showing off its extensive arsenal and burning a Jew in effigy.

The festering enmity led to Hamas firing its own propaganda counter-attack against Abbas in the last few days. Hamas official Salah al-Bardawil accused Abbas’s Palestinian Authority in the West Bank of failing to meet its responsibilities under the April reconciliation agreement with Hamas, which seized control of Gaza from the PA in a bloody 2007 military coup. He stressed that Abbas is responsible for the delay in rebuilding the Strip since the last war.

Bardawil also criticized Abbas’ decision to appeal to the UN alone for unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state, without the support of the Palestinian people. “He did not consult with us and went to the United Nations alone,” Bardawil said. “He runs a dictatorship.”

Hamas further accused Abbas of refusing to work towards an understanding regarding the Gaza Strip’s border crossings, with senior Hamas official Mousa Abu Marzouq saying in a statement:

“Abbas is rejecting any step towards reaching an understanding over [reopening] the Gaza crossings and is derailing efforts to expedite reconstruction of the Gaza Strip. The Gaza Strip’s crossings work in coordination with the PA and Israel; it’s not only the responsibility of Hamas. We’re open to reaching an understanding with the PA regarding the crossings and facilitating the reconstruction of Gaza, but President Abbas is hindering all attempts to reach one.”

Mohammed Dahlan, the former head of Palestinian security services Gaza, also attacked Abbas’ authoritarian tendencies, publishing a status on his Facebook page this Thursday accusing Abbas of being a dictator who “[forges] facts on a daily basis” and declaring, “Palestine can’t be run through bullying and dictatorship by Abbas and his gang.”

Last week, a poll revealed that 70% of Palestinians did not believe that they could talk freely under the rule of Abbas.

[Photo: United Nations Photo / Flickr]