A representative of the Hamas movement, the de facto leaders of the besieged Gaza Strip, said Hamas rejected the prospect of holding bilateral meetings with a Fatah delegation expected to arrive to the territory, amid a deepening political crisis between the two factions.
Fatah, the ruling party of the Palestinian Authority (PA) government in the occupied West Bank, said it would send a delegation to Gaza after Israel ends its lockdown on the occupied territory imposed for the Jewish holiday of Passover, closures that were lifted Monday night.
Fatah’s central committee member Ahmad Azzam had said the delegation was tasked with creating “decisive results” toward reaching an understanding with Hamas to form a unity government in Gaza and the West Bank
, and slammed Hamas for “wasting time when it acts exactly the opposite of what it declares.”
However, during a rally in Rafah in southern Gaza on Monday evening, Hamas leader Hammad al-Ruqab rejected the prospect of bilateral meetings with Fatah, saying that bilateral talks would "only cement the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip.”
"Hamas respects every single Palestinian who comes to visit Gaza, but there will be no bilateral meetings between Hamas and Fatah. Instead, a meeting will be held for all Palestinians so that all Palestinian people and factions can be involved in hearing what it is that Fatah wants,” he said.
Touching on the latest issues that have escalated the political crisis, the Hamas official urged the PA to retract its recent decision to slash the salaries of Gaza-based PA employees. He said the PA had also cut aid disbursement to impoverished Gazans
via the ministry of social affairs, and called upon the PA to reinstate those payments as well.
Azzam went on to call upon the PA to exempt fuel sold to Gaza’s sole power plant from taxes, after the plant shut down Monday due to a lack of fuel.
“We cannot hold talks with those who bluff and bluster. Our people are fed up with all the farce and triviality of bilateral dialogue, which eventually only brings more blockade," Azzam said.
Hamas had called for demonstrations “against the ongoing conspiracy being perpetrated against Gaza,” in an official statement on their website.