PA Accuses Hamas of ‘Secret Talks’ with Israel

August 19, 2015  

The Palestinian Authority on Tuesday accused Hamas of holding secret talks with Israel that would endorse the separation of Palestinian territories, AFP reports.

Arab and Turkish media have carried reports, picked up by Israeli media, claiming Israel and the Hamas were holding talks reportedly aimed at reaching an eight- or 10-year truce, with Israel removing its blockade on the coastal Palestinian territory.

Israel on Monday denied it was engaged in “any meetings with Hamas, neither directly, nor via other countries or intermediaries”.

The PA, however, has been up in arms over the reports. On Sunday, the Fatah faction which heads the PA called the talks an attempt to bypass the “legitimate” rule of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and of PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

It further said such a deal could bring about a situation in which various armed groups claim to represent the “Palestinian nation.”

On Tuesday, the PA weighed in on the reports, insisting there were talks that would cause Palestinian disunity.

“There have been negotiations and they are on the verge of reaching an agreement about a truce of eight to 10 years,” Palestinian foreign minister Riad al-Malki charged, according to AFP.

The agreement would see Israel lift its blockade of Gaza and “allow maritime passage” to nearby Cyprus, Malki told France 24 television.

“We don’t know if it will happen tomorrow or in a month,” he said, adding that “there are mediators who are doing their utmost to reach this agreement.”

The Fatah party, Hamas’s longtime rival, said former British prime minister Tony Blair was acting as a mediator in the talks.

“The Hamas-Blair agreement … paves the way for division and the isolation of the Gaza Strip,” said Fatah spokesman Ahmed Assaf, according to AFP.

This, he added, would help “Israel to achieve its goal of preventing the creation of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders” and including Gaza, Judea and Samaria and eastern Jerusalem, he claimed in an interview on Palestinian radio on Monday night.

Fatah’s accusations are the latest in its back and forth with Hamas. The sides have engaged in an ongoing war of words, despite a unity agreement signed in April 2014 which sought to end seven years of bad blood.

The unity government between Hamas and Fatah collapsed in June when Abbas decided to dissolve it amid a deepening rift between the sides.

Just last week, senior Hamas member Khalil al-Haya referred to members of Fatah as traitors who must be punished and referred to the security coordination between the Palestinian Authority’s security forces and Israel as “treason”.

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