Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. (AP/Raad Adayleh) AP/ Raad Adayleh
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (AP/ Raad Adayleh)

The Palestinian Authority suspects Hamas will coordinate civilian affairs directly with Israel, cutting out Abbas and other Palestinian middlemen.

By Baruch Yedid, TPS

The Palestinian Authority (PA) fears that Hamas will begin to coordinate civilian affairs in the Gaza Strip directly with Israel while bypassing it.

The PA also suspects that in the absence of security and civilian coordination with Israel, PA officials will begin to work directly with Israel after Mahmoud Abbas announced the ending of all coordination with Israel.

In addition, the PA is concerned that Israel will use the civilian and economic dependence of its residents to bypass the PA and damage its status.

TPS has learned that in recent days, Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip have discussed the possibility of establishing a special civil authority whose members will not be part of its leadership or its activists and who will oversee coordination with Israel while bypassing the Palestinian Authority.

TPS also learned that Hamas is examining the possibility that Fatah members affiliated with Muhammad Dahlan will take on this task. Dahlan has very good relations with Egypt and, in recent years, with Hamas, which has previously approached him to help open the Egyptian border.

Dahlan has a difficult relationship with Abbas and Hamas is counting on this as well.

Bypassing the Palestinian Authority

The PA is aware of this development and their officials say there is a great deal of concern related to the scene at the IDF’s coordinating and liaison headquarters in Hebron, where thousands of workers from the PA came to obtain work permits, thereby bypassing the PA, which is usually entrusted with providing them.

Palestinian media outlets claim that the Israeli Civil Administration is campaigning against the PA and that it opened public reception halls in its offices to attract the residents of the PA.

This got a lot of attention in Ramallah, especially following a campaign launched by Fatah activists over the weekend on social media calling for a boycott of the IDF’s Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) and urging residents not to have any contact with the Israeli authorities.

A PA official told TPS that PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh is in contact with the Red Cross to examine the possibility that the organization will undertake the coordination of civilian affairs in the Gaza Strip with Israel in place of the Palestinian Authority.

In recent days, various sources have criticized Abbas’ decision to cut off relations with Israel and accused him of still being a captive of the old Fatah method, which is first to make statements and only then plan for actions. They noted that the pressure on him expected from the street may embarrass the PA and weaken it.

Alongside internal criticism, there is also confusion in the Palestinian Authority. The PA’s Foreign Minister Riyadh Maliki told the foreign media that there is a possibility of a meeting between Abbas and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and even the possibility of a Moscow-mediated video call between PA and Israeli representatives.

He was heavily criticized by senior Fatah officials. Fatah leader Tawfiq Tirawi suggested that Maliki resign as he is no longer eligible for the job.

Hamas spokesman Hazem Qasim, who took advantage of the incident to embarrass the PA, said the foreign minister’s statements were proof that the Palestinian Authority was not serious about severing ties with Israel, while Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) condemned Maliki severely.

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