PA, Hamas fight in Oman over who really represents Palestinians

“We do not remember such a humiliating step,” a PA official told TPS.

By TPS and World Israel News Staff 

The feud between the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas reached new levels at the beginning of the week when PA head Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Islamil Haniyeh both arrived in Oman to pay their condolences for the death of Sultan Qaboos Bin Said and fought over who really represented the Palestinians.

Haniyeh, who has been staying in Qatar for the past month, made a point of arriving in Oman, even though he knew Abbas would be there in an official capacity.

The Ramallah-based authority perceives this move as Haniyeh’s attempt to replace Abbas and a blatant intervention on the PA’s official authority. Therefore, the PA has reached out to Arab countries in recent days to clarify that Haniyeh does not represent the Palestinians and should not receive cooperation in this capacity.

Israel signed understandings with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1993, which led to the establishment of the PA, a self-rule authority that would rule in parts of Judea, Samaria, and the Gaza Strip.

In June 2007, Hamas overthrew the PA in Gaza. Israeli and PA officials have repeatedly accused Hamas of trying to take control in Judea and Samaria as well.

“We do not remember such a humiliating step, and Haniyeh seems to have declared open war on the official representation of the Palestinian people and is openly disrespecting the PLO’s powers,” a PA official told TPS in the aftermath of the confrontation in Oman.

The PA responded with an attack on Haniyeh through its Wafa news agency, publishing an article on Monday in which Hamas leaders are accused of showing a willingness to “dwarf the image of the Palestinians” in order to serve “as hand-kissing beggars” to Iranian leaders.

PA TV also extensively reported on the “suspicious ties” between Hamas leaders and Teheran.

Members of the Hamas leadership attended the funeral of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, who was assassinated by the U.S. on January 3.

PA officials have warned Hamas of the “damage to the Palestinian image” that attending the funeral could cause in potentially identifying the Palestinians with the Iranian axis if Hamas continues to announce itself as the representative of the Palestinian people.

In what was viewed as a rare statement, Wafa went as far as to warn that the close ties between Hamas and Iran would “infiltrate the minds of millions of free people around the world and would be an insult to Palestinian nationalism.”

In the meantime, Haniyeh is expected to stay in Qatar for a prolonged period of time and has no plans to return to Gaza, a Gazan source told TPS. The Hamas leader left the Gaza Strip a month ago and has since been in Turkey, Egypt, and Iran.

Haniyeh fears that he will be punished by Egypt, which allowed him to leave the Strip through Egyptian territory on condition that he does not visit Iran, a pledge he breached by attending Soleimani’s funeral.

Egyptian media have already condemned Hamas and derided the “Muslim Brotherhood’s hand-kissing culture, in which they kiss those who pay them the most.”

Hamas is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood.