The Palestinian Leader Covets Control of Gaza Crossings to Get Round Kerry Peace Framework
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) is maneuvering for a deal with Hamas to bring the Gaza Strip under his control and send the framework, which US Secretary of State John Kerry is drafting for an accord with Israel, back to the drawing board.
The deal would also get in the way of Israeli and Egyptian policies for the Gaza Strip, which Egypt has placed under military and economic siege for hosting terrorists and Muslim Brotherhood activists.
Abu Mazen’s plan is for the Hamas rulers of Gaza to recognize their former bitter rivals, the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority of Ramallah. In return, the PA would recognize Hamas as the ruling authority of the Gaza Strip. That would be a big step toward a merger.
This plan was presented to Gaza City this week by Abbas’s emissaries Nabil Shaath and Shahar Bsiso.
As another decisive step, the Ramallah authority’s security force would take control of Gaza’s border crossings with Egypt (at Rafah) and with Israel (at Kerem Shalom, Karni and Erez), as well as its air and sea terminals (at Gaza Port and Dahaniyeh) which are currently shut down.
Shaath, a leading Fatah Central Committee member, told a news conference, Monday Feb. 3 that reconciliation between the rival Palestinian factions was ripe.
According to our sources, he was running ahead of himself. But now, a senior Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmad is due to visit Gaza City next week to try and clinch the reconciliation between the two Palestinian movements.
Burying the hatchet holds increasingly attractive benefits for both – as DEBKA Weekly reports:
Abbas would speak for Gaza and West Bank in peace talks
1. It would substantially strengthen Abbas’ hand in peace talks with Israel and the US. Instead of representing half of the Palestinian community on the West Bank, he would be empowered to speak for both parts including the Gaza Strip. He would present Kerry with the accomplished fact of his security forces in place for controlling the Gaza border crossings.
2. Abbas would then demand the system’s replication at the West Bank border crossings of the future Palestinian state, as a means of circumventing the various proposals put forward for US, NATO or other foreign forces to man the border crossing-points.
(Border crossing security is a separate issue from internal security in the Palestinian state)
3. Palestinian Authority security forces on the border crossings would offer Hamas a buffer against the Israeli and Egyptian armies.
Responsibility for Gaza’s relations with Cairo would veer away from the Hamas government to the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority, which would also have the last word on Gaza’s ties with Israel.
A life-saver for Hamas
4. For Hamas this deal could be a life-saver. Its leaders fear that Egypt’s strongman Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi is preparing to invade the Gaza Strip to eradicate the clandestine Muslim Brotherhood cells operating from there.
A PA force parked on the Egypt-Gaza border may present the Egyptian army with an impediment, as well as interfering with Israeli military action inside the enclave. Cross border clashes with terrorist operatives is one thing; attacking a Palestinian regular force would be another.
5. To promote the union, Hamas has offered to share power with Fatah in a Palestinian transitional government in which non-partisan professional figures would serve along with the politicians.
6. Hamas is against calling a general election in the West Bank and Gaza, even though it gained a majority in the last vote seven years ago. As matters stand today, the radical Palestinian organization fears it would risk a serious defeat.
7. Hamas sees another advantage in a partial merger with Ramallah: a boost for overcoming the serious breaches with its various former patrons at different times – Iran, Hizballah, Syria and Egypt.