Middle-East

Palestinian Official Accuses Israel of Working to Thwart Unity

Ramallah (Xinhua): A Palestinian official on Sunday accused Israel of working to thwart President Mahmoud Abbas’ initiative to visit the Gaza Strip that aims to restore national unity.

“Israel is interested in blocking Abbas’ choices regarding the reconciliation,” said Azzam al-Ahmad, a senior leader of Abbas’ Fatah party.

Abbas said recently that he would go to Gaza to declare a unity government with its rival the Hamas movement which has been controlling Gaza since it routed pro-Abbas forces in 2007.

An Israeli newspaper reported on Sunday that Abbas was likely to cancel his visit, which has not yet been scheduled, after the military wing of the Hamas said they could not secure his safety once he arrives in Gaza.

“Abbas will head for Gaza as soon as Hamas accepts his initiative,” al-Ahmad said, urging the Hamas not to indirectly aid Israel by putting obstacles on Abbas’ plans.

Abbas wants to form a government of independents to take care of the Palestinian affairs until national elections take place after six months, while the Hamas, which won last parliamentary elections, said it wants to negotiate with the Fatah and reach an agreement on controversial issues before forming any government and going to new polls.

Ismail Haneya, the head of the Hamas government, invited Abbas to visit Gaza earlier this month. Abbas accepted the invitation, but said he would go only to announce the formation of the government.

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