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Hamas leader confirms alliance with Muhammad Dahlan against PA

June 18, 2017 10:19 P.M. (Updated: June 19, 2017 1:17 P.M.)
Hamas politburo deputy chairman in the besieged Gaza Strip Khalil al-Hayya. (File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Hamas politburo deputy chairman in the besieged Gaza Strip Khalil al-Hayya called on Sunday for the establishment of a “national rescue front” to challenge the Palestinian Authority (PA), confirming the Islamist movement's collaboration with discharged Fatah leader Muhammad Dahlan.

Al-Hayya, who was elected to the position in February, slammed the Fatah-led PA for its recent decision to request that Israel reduce its supply of electricity to the Gaza Strip, expected to have disastrous effects on Gaza's two million inhabitants and endanger the medical sector in particular.

"We won't stand idly by as these practices lead to deprivation of medicine," al-Hayya said in a statement. "This policy unites us all in Gaza and consolidates our belief that our plight is being hijacked by (PA President) Mahmoud Abbas."

Fatah and Hamas have been in conflict since the Hamas movement won Palestinian legislative elections in January 2006 by a landslide and wrestled control of the Gaza Strip a year later.

Following Hamas’ takeover, Israel imposed a stringent blockade on the small Palestinian territory that marked its ten-year anniversary earlier this month, amid an ever-worsening humanitarian situation.

Al-Hayya added that Hamas had agreed to cooperate with longtime Abbas rival Dahlan in order “to work together on social interests after Abbas crippled those interests."

“I am not revealing a secret” in disclosing that meetings with Dahlan have been ongoing, al-Hayya said, adding that "we agreed on a clear and specific way to go on with our relationship to complete humanitarian and joint responsibility works we started years ago."

Dahlan, who was Fatah’s leading figure in the Gaza Strip before 2007, was excluded from Fatah in 2011 over allegations of being involved in the death of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat and of engaging in high-level corruption, for which he was sentenced to three years in prison by a court in the occupied West Bank in December.

Al-Hayya also said on Sunday that the departure of a number of Hamas leaders from Qatar was not due to them being expelled from the small Gulf state following several regional powers severing ties with Qatar, Hamas’ major backer, earlier this month.

Instead, al-Hayya claimed that their departure was part of a redeployment plan following the election of Gaza-based Ismail Haniyeh as Hamas politburo head in May, adding that "Hamas' main headquarters is Gaza, and Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh won't leave Gaza except for foreign visits."

Al-Hayya added in his statement that Hamas had recently improved its relationship with Egypt.

Egypt, the only other country sharing a border with Gaza, has upheld the Israeli blockade since President Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi overthrew the Muslim Brotherhood-led government in 2013.

Hamas leader in Gaza Yahya al-Sinwar and a delegation of other Hamas officials visited Egypt earlier in June to reportedly discuss Hamas’ relations with Egypt, and possibilities of opening the Rafah crossing between Egypt and the besieged Palestinian territory by September, in time for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.

In an interview with Turkish news outlet TRT World published on Saturday, former Hamas politburo head Khalid Meshaal called Egypt “a key player in lifting the siege imposed on Gaza and opening up the border crossing.”

“That’s why we’ve worked hard to keep our relationship open with Egypt and visit them, and reach an agreement in which they open the border and lift the blockade that Israel is responsible for,” Meshaal was quoted as saying.

Hamas has become increasingly vulnerable to Egyptian pressures to cooperate with its harsh ‘counterterrorism’ crackdown this year, since Egypt severed ties with Qatar, which had served as a base for the political party for years; the recent concentration of Hamas senior leadership in Gaza has made the political party dependent on the goodwill of the Egyptian government to maintain its leaders’ freedom of movement.
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