(Photo credit: Issam RImawi/Flash90)

After weeks of quarreling, the unity government between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas appears to be on the verge of collapse. 

Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas warned Saturday night that the unity government he is jointly heading with Hamas is on the brink of collapse.

Speaking to journalists in Cairo, Abbas attacked Hamas for the lack of unity, stating: “If the government will not be unified, (in terms of) the weapons and laws in the West Bank and Gaza, there won’t be any partnership or discussion with the (Hamas) organization.” He further stated that “Hamas has been trying to cause the Palestinian Authority to fail since the day it was formed.”

Abbas is in Cairo for talks with Arab leaders and members of the Arab League as he makes decisions regarding his next diplomatic steps.

“I don’t trust Hamas much because they change their words all the time. There must be a unified Palestinian Authority,” remarked Abbas.

A split developed between the PA and Hamas during Operation Protective Edge as a result of a difference in opinion on strategy and because of power and control struggles.

The PA chairman confirmed reports of a stormy meeting he had with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal in Qatar on August 21, in which he slammed the Hamas leader for his organization’s coup attempt against the PA in Judea and Samaria last month. “You are smuggling weapons, explosives and money to the (West) Bank, and not to fight Israel, but to hold a coup against the (Palestinian) Authority,” Abbas reportedly told Mashaal.

The current main point of contention concerns the decision making. Abbas clarified his demand that he be the one to decide all political and diplomatic decisions, including those regarding the signing of peace treaties or going to war.

According to some observers, Abbas will likely announce soon that he has halted all dialogue with Hamas until his demands are met. “Honestly, my patience with Israel, the United States and Hamas has run out,” the PA head said.

Critical of Hamas during Operation Protective Edge

Abbas condemned Hamas’s actions during Operation Protective Edge, pointing out that 400,000 Gazans have been left without a roof over their heads. He also criticized Hamas for playing with the figures of terrorists killed during the operation.

“Hamas says the number of dead from their ranks didn’t go past 50, when in actuality, over 850 Hamas members and their family members were killed,” Abbas said.

Regarding the execution of Gazans accused of collaborating with Israel, Abbas added: “Hamas conducted atrocities during the war in Gaza, and also at its end, when it executed 120 people without trial because they breached the curfew placed on them.”

Trying to Regain Support?

It is of significant that Abbas’s heavy criticism of Hamas comes at a time during which the terrorist organization is enjoying a wave of support on the Palestinian street following Operation Protective Edge. A poll published last Thursday shows that if elections were held today in the PA-controlled areas, Hamas leader Ismail Haniya would enjoy 61 percent of the votes, whereas Abbas would have a mere 32 percent.

Author: Aryeh Savir
Staff Writer, United with Israel