What drives Abbas anti-Hamas threats, measures?

Alwaght– The Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said that Fatah will gradually cut the annual budget for Gaza if Hamas fails to reach an agreement with the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Talking to hundreds of attendees gathering at the headquarters of the Palestinian government for his speech on situation in Al-Quds (Jerusalem), Abbas said on Saturday he warned Hamas that the resistance movement should expect more restrictions if they refuse to merge Gaza with West Bank.

Abbas comments indicate how deep the divisions between Hamas and the Ramallah-based Fatah are, and that even with the underway negotiations between the two, there are small chances that the Palestinian factions strike a deal to bridge the gaps.

Fatah and Hamas: Palestinian parties with different stances

At the time being, PA and Hamas are conducting talks to work out a plan for national cohesion.

Gaza Strip is separated the Fatah-ruled West Bank and the two parts of the Palestinian-controlled territories do not share border. In West Bank, there is a massive presence of the Israeli forces and the Palestinian Authority, unlike Hamas, is cooperating with the regime’s security forces despite the latter’s pressing for destruction of the Palestinian homes and seizing farm lands to build illegal settlement for the growing Israeli population.

The settlement building of the Israeli regime across the West Bank has even drawn criticism of the friendly European Union and the United Nations. But Israeli leaders declined to address the international concerns so far, and Abbas continued to work with Tel Aviv in a range of areas. On the opposite side, Gaza, which has been controlled by Hamas since 2006, has been under an all-out Israeli blockade but refused to hold contacts with the regime.

Since the Hamas victory in the elections in 2006 , the Palestinian Authority has put intensive strains on the citizens in Gaza, spoiling any chances for improvement of relations with the Gaza leaders. In fact, Hamas rise to power in Gaza in 2006 election unleashed waves of Fatah fears about losing its key position of leadership of Palestine if Hamas rule continued in the besieged territory. This was an excessive provocation for Fatah leaders to put restrictions on Hamas even at the expense of colluding with Zionists.

Rifts between the Palestinian parties touched their peak when Hamas in mid-2007 accuse Fatah of plotting coup against the legal government in Gaza, Fatah rejected it and in response accused Hamas of organizing coup. The exchange of accusations ushered in a period of long-term row between the Palestinian power poles. Even armed clashes ensued, and at least 34 people from both sides were killed.

The tensions kept unfolding until April when Mahmoud Abbas announced cutting salaries of employees in Gaza with the purpose of putting pressures on Hamas. But Gaza leaders called the measure as a complement to the 2007 Israeli blockade that makes Gaza the “world’s largest open air prison.”

Beside cutting state employees’ pays, Abbas ceased paying for the fuel of the only-active Gaza power plant supplied by Israeli companies, leading to power outages between 20 to 22 hours a day. He further stopped funding for imports of medicines, medical facilities, and powdered milk. Fatah’s leader further threatened to take tougher measures against Gaza to for Hamas leaders to handover Gaza’s control PA.

Why is Abbas threatening Hamas?

Some experts blame the inter-Palestinian gaps on the conflicting views to the Palestinian cause. While Hamas has always pressed for revolutionary stances and retaking the occupied territories and so far declined to recognize the Israeli regime as a state, the Fatah leaders closely collaborated with Tel Aviv. One of the key issues that ignited Hamas-Fatah differences was leaking of close Fatah leaders’ ties with the Israeli officials in 2007.

Fatah pressures are not limited to the Gazans. Reports suggest that Fatah-led security forces aslo violently treat pro-resistance Palestinians in the West Bank. On the other side, Fatah’s popular base has begun to slide as the movement accedes to terms of negotiations with Tel Aviv without acceptable results for the Palestinian side. This decline of popularity comes while Hamas still has its popular trust for the movement’s pro-liberation stances. Many people see Hamas’s uncompromising postures as bearing promises to restore Palestinian rights, help return of the displaced citizens, and even end nearly 70 years of Palestine occupation by Zionists.

Being concerned over Hamas popularity and power gain, the Palestinian Authority is pressuring the already-besieged Hams to yield to its demands to deliver Gaza rule to the Israeli-friendly organization.