Israeli newspaper: Abbas mulls declaring Gaza a rebel district

Abbas vs Gaza rebel district

Israel Hayom newspaper said Thursday that Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas mulls declaring Gaza Strip a rebel district soon.

The paper quoted a senior PA official close to Abbas as saying that the move, a “doomsday weapon” for Abbas to use against Hamas in the internal Palestinian conflict.

The move aims at pressuring Hamas to hand control of Gaza over to the Palestinian Authority, according to the official.

Implementing the plan would mean immediately declaring a state of emergency throughout Gaza while simultaneously issuing emergency orders designating certain groups and movements as “rebels.”

In such an event, Hamas would be outlawed and all its assets, including institutions, funds and bank accounts, will be frozen. In addition, arrest warrants will be issued against the heads of the organization.

Likewise, the Palestinian Authority will cease paying the salaries of public servants in Gaza, and will ask the U.N., the Arab League and various international bodies to discontinue international aid to Gaza.

The PA would also petition the Palestinian Supreme Court, seeking to declare the Palestinian parliament illegal, thereby revoking lawmakers’ diplomatic immunity, disbanding the government and paving the way for an interim government for as long as the state of emergency continues.

The Palestinian official stressed that the assessment in Ramallah is that such a move would have far-reaching diplomatic implications, going beyond the internal Palestinian conflict. First and foremost, they believe this will pressure Israel, the U.S., Egypt, Jordan and others to kick start the stalled peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.

According to the Palestinian official, security and political officials in Israel were recently briefed about Abbas’ plans, and signaled that Israel did not support the action at this time. The Israelis would like to first exhaust all other avenues, under the auspices of regional and world powers, to resolve the Gaza crisis.

An official in Abbas’ office in Ramallah said that since this kind of action is unprecedented, it is yet unclear how it would be implemented practically, or whether or not it is even possible under Palestinian and international law.

However, it is clear that Abbas has already fired the opening salvo as evidenced by cutting the wages of public servants in Gaza, freezing the salaries of a number of Palestinian parliament members representing Hamas and halting payments to Palestinian prisoners freed in the 2011 Shalit prisoner exchange deal.

The official said that a team of Palestinian Justice Ministry legal experts has been established to review how to implement the plan legally, both in terms of Palestinian law and international law.

(Source / 15.06.2017)

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