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October 8, 2018 11:06 am

Egyptian, PA Officials Accuse Abbas of ‎Actively Escalating Crisis in Gaza

avatar by Israel Hayom /

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas addressing the U.N. General Assembly on September 27, 2018. Photo: UN Photo/Cia Pak – Egyptian‏ ‏and Palestinian officials on Sunday accused ‎Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas of ‎actively escalating the crisis in the Gaza Strip in ‎hopes that it will force rival Palestinian faction ‎Hamas to hand over control of the coastal enclave. ‎

Hamas — designated as a terrorist group by the European Union, the United States, Israel and several other countries — ousted ‎Abbas’s Fatah-led government from ‎‎Gaza in a military ‎coup in 2007, ‎‎‎effectively ‎splitting the Palestinian ‎Authority into two ‎‎political ‎‎entities. All efforts ‎made over the past ‎‎decade to ‎‎promote a ‎reconciliation between the rival ‎‎Palestinian ‎factions—the latest ‎‎brokered by Egypt ‎‎in late 2017—have failed. ‎ ‎

Egyptian intelligence officials said over the ‎weekend that, given Abbas’s efforts to derail Cairo’s attempts to broker a long-term ‎cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, compounded by the escalating Gaza border tensions, Egypt was ‎considering ceasing its efforts to mediate an inter-‎Palestinian reconciliation.‎

Egyptian and Palestinian officials confirmed to ‎Israel Hayom that most recently, Abbas has foiled an ‎attempt to ship Qatari-funded fuel from Israel to ‎Gaza via the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).‎

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According to a senior Ramallah official, Abbas ‎rebuked UN Middle East envoy Nikolay Mladenov over ‎the attempt and accused him of trying to circumvent ‎the Palestinian leadership by helping Hamas. ‎

Abbas’s office further warned UNRWA officials in Gaza, ‎who were set to receive the Qatari tankers, that it ‎will suspend their wages if they go ahead with the delivery. ‎

Last year, Abbas suspended the PA’s payments for the power Gaza receives from Israel, plunging the Strip into a severe energy crisis and leaving Gazans with four to six hours of electricity per day. This, combined with a series of financial sanctions, dilapidated infrastructure and soaring unemployment that has recently crossed 50 percent, has seen the civil unrest in Gaza grow and with it, security tensions with Israel.

‎“It looks like he [Abbas] is doing everything in his ‎power to escalate the crisis in Gaza and prevent ‎Hamas from marking any diplomatic achievement,” an ‎Egyptian source said. ‎

A senior Egyptian defense official told Israel Hayom on ‎Sunday that Abbas’s actions have painted Hamas into a ‎corner. ‎

‎“If Cairo pulls out of the [cease-fire] talks, there ‎is very high chance of another conflict in Gaza,” he ‎warned, adding that Egyptian officials involved in ‎the indirect negotiations were constantly briefing ‎their Israeli counterparts on every development.‎

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