update deskIsrael-Palestinian Conflict

Palestinian terror factions heading to Moscow for unity talks

Fatah and Hamas will also discuss the post-war rehabilitation of the Gaza Strip.

Hamas political bureau member Mousa Abu Marzouk, June 19, 2022. Source: Hamas.ps/ar.
Hamas political bureau member Mousa Abu Marzouk, June 19, 2022. Source: Hamas.ps/ar.

Palestinian terror factions Fatah and Hamas are heading to Moscow on Thursday for a two-day “national dialogue” on forming a unity government under the auspices of the Russian Foreign Ministry, the RIA Novosti state news agency reported on Wednesday.

The Palestinian ambassador to the Russian Federation Abdel Hafiz Nofal and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov confirmed the Moscow summit.

In addition to discussing political unification and the formation of a new government, the terror representatives will talk about the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip after the end of the war.

Fatah is is the Palestinian Authority’s ruling faction in Ramallah, led by Mahmoud Abbas, and Jerusalem has clearly stated that it does not want the P.A. to play any part in governing Gaza after Hamas is defeated, given its support for terrorism.

According to Hamas sources cited by Ynet, the terrorist group’s delegation in Moscow will be led by Musa Abu Marzouk, a member of the Hamas political bureau.

Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group are demanding participation in the PLO, while the Fatah movement is setting conditions for the establishment of a new government in what the United States has described as a “revitalized” P.A. They include the commitment to the institutions outlined in the Oslo Accords and the unification of laws and governance in Gaza and Judea and Samaria.

Abbas on Tuesday accepted the resignation of Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh and his cabinet and requested that he stay on as a caretaker until the appointment of a permanent replacement.

During a Cabinet meeting in Ramallah on Monday, Shtayyeh explained that “this decision comes in light of the political, security and economic developments related to the aggression against Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip, and the unprecedented escalation in the West Bank, including the city of Jerusalem,” according to the P.A.’s official Wafa news agency.

“We will remain in confrontation with the occupation [Israel], and the Palestinian Authority will continue to struggle to establish the state on the lands of Palestine,” he continued. “I see that the next stage and its challenges require new governmental and political arrangements that take into account the emerging reality in the Gaza Strip, the national unity talks [with Hamas], and the urgent need for an inter-Palestinian consensus based on a national basis, broad participation, unity of ranks, and the extension of the Palestinian Authority’s sovereignty over the entire land of Palestine.”

On Sunday, Sky News Arabia reported that top P.A. officials could offer their resignation “within days” to facilitate the swift establishment of a Palestinian “government of technocrats,” including Hamas members, whose primary purpose would be the reconstruction of Gaza.

The new government is expected to be headed by Mohammad Mustafa, currently the chairman of the P.A.’s Palestine Investment Fund. It would serve during a “transition period” until elections are held.

“The resignation of Shtayyeh’s government only makes sense if it comes within the context of national consensus on arrangements for the next phase,” senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri told Reuters on Monday.

On Feb. 12, P.A. chief Mahmoud Abbas traveled to Doha at the invitation of Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani to discuss ways to incorporate Hamas into a P.A.-led body for Judea, Samaria and Gaza.

Following Abbas’s trip, Hamas reportedly approved a three-step plan leading to “complete reconciliation [with the Palestinian Authority]” and the terrorist group joining the PLO, which controls the P.A., under a “unified Palestinian-Arab vision.”

The United States wants the P.A. to assume control of Gaza after the war against Hamas ends, a move that Israel vehemently rejects because of Ramallah’s overt support for terrorism.

On Jan. 27, Abbas’s spokesman told Al Arabiya television that the P.A. is prepared to hand over the reins to Hamas after the conflict. Ramallah is “prepared to hold general elections, and if Hamas wins, the president will hand over the Authority,” spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said.

The U.S. State Department has refused to rule out Hamas retaining power in Gaza or even joining a P.A.-led governing body that would also have jurisdiction in Judea and Samaria.

According to Palestinian polls, 89% of Palestinians support establishing a government that includes or is led by Hamas. Only around 8.5% said they favor an authority controlled exclusively by Abbas’s Fatah faction.

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