By Lubaba Zuqan
GAZA CITY, Palestine
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has announced his rejection of what he described as “militias” in the blockaded Gaza Strip, which since 2007 has been run by resistance movement Hamas.
In an interview with China’s official Xinhua news agency on Monday, Abbas said the Palestinian leadership “does not want to repeat the unsuccessful model of allowing militias to operate in Gaza”.
“There must be one authority [in Gaza]: one law and one gun,” Abbas said. “There is no room for the presence of militias.”
Several Palestinian factions maintain military wings in Gaza, the most notable of which are Hamas’s Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades and Islamic Jihad’s Al-Quds Brigades.
Following the recent signing in Cairo of a landmark reconciliation agreement with rival faction Fatah, Hamas has repeatedly said the maintenance of its armed wing -- and formidable arsenal -- was “not up for discussion”.
Abbas also told Xinhua that he rejected “all foreign interference in Palestinian internal affairs”.
“No one should interfere in our internal affairs because we don’t interfere in the affairs of others,” he said.
“We ask that all assistance from other parts of the world be sent via the [Ramallah-based] Palestinian Authority [PA],” he added.
Abbas, who serves as chairman of both Fatah and the Fatah-led PA, praised the recent reconciliation deal signed with Hamas, describing it as a “step forward”.
“The agreement has all the ingredients for reconciliation,” he said. “Now we’re moving into the implementation phase.”
“The internal split that began 10 years ago following Hamas’s coup in Gaza has greatly harmed the Palestinian cause,” he Abbas asserted.
“But now we’re moving towards reconciliation,” he added. “Government ministers from the West Bank are visiting Gaza with a view to assuming responsibility for the enclave under the authority of a single state.”
On Oct. 12, Hamas and Fatah signed a landmark reconciliation agreement in Cairo.
The deal -- if it holds -- will allow the Ramallah-based Palestinian unity government to assume political and administrative responsibility for the Gaza Strip, which for the last ten years has been run by Hamas.
The Israeli-occupied West Bank and the blockaded Gaza Strip have remained politically divided since 2007, when Hamas wrested control of the strip from Abbas’s Fatah-led PA.
Hamas’s capture of Gaza in 2007 ended an earlier -- if short-lived -- unity government set up after Hamas swept Palestinian legislative elections in early 2006.