Photo Credit: United Nations
Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas addresses the United Nations General Assembly

Palestinian Authority (PA) leader Mahmoud Abbas reiterated his vow on Sunday to continue to allocate salaries to “families” of terrorists incarcerated in Israeli prisons, and those of “martyrs” who die while trying to kill Israelis.

Speaking to the Fatah Revolutionary Council (FRC) and the Central Committee, Abbas described the payments as a “moral, national, political and humanitarian obligation,” quoting the PA-owned Wafa news agency.

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In his address before the two bodies – both comprising the largest factions in the Palestinian Authority government – Abbas said the path to achieving “national unity” between Fatah and Hamas “will require some time,” according to the final communique of the meeting.

Both bodies endorsed the terms of ‘national reconciliation’ between Fatah and Hamas. Only Egypt was given the authority to make determinations in the reconciliation efforts, although Jordan is allowed to participate.

Abbas said that for the National Consensus Government to assume full responsibilities in Gaza, “there should only be one authority, one weapon, one law, and one political program based on the Palestine Liberation Organization’s agenda, as is the case in the occupied West Bank,” Wafa reported.

Abbas was also quoted by A-Sharq al-Awsat as saying the recent approval by Hamas to dissolve its ruling administrative committee, plus the recent visit of the National Consensus Government to Gaza and the approval to carry out general elections “are the right way to achieve national unity, which is indispensable to us, as it is the basis for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital on the 1967 borders.”

Hamas officials are likewise enthusiastic about working towards the successful completion of a strategic reconciliation between the two rival factions. In a statement published Sunday in English on the official website of Hamas, the group said it fully intends to participate in any future unity government with Fatah.

However, all of that aside, the bottom line still remains that Abbas is insisting that authority, weapons, laws and politics must be unified under one banner – that of the Palestine Liberation Organization – which Hamas does not belong to.

Nor does Hamas have any intention of giving up its weapons or its separate military authority.

Hamas leader Khalil Al-Haiya said in a speech quoted Sunday that it is “erroneous to put any obstacles in front of the efforts being made to accomplish the Palestinian reconciliation” – but added “resistance weapons are non-negotiable and are not part of any agreement.”

He pointed out that “for Palestinians who still confront their enemy occupiers to establish their independent state, all form of resistance, whether political or military are not only legitimate, but also pressing and necessary.”

Likewise, Bardawil stressed that the issue of Hamas as a resistance movement was non-negotiable, and would not be a part of any agreement, according to the Bethlehem-based Ma’an news agency.

Reconciliation talks are slated to continue in Cairo on Tuesday.

Meanwhile the PA leader – who also serves as chairman of Fatah – also spoke about the upcoming 100th anniversary of the 1917 Balfour Declaration that led to the establishment of the State of Israel. Abbas again asked Britain to apologize for the “long injustice against the Palestinian people.”

Abbas called on Britain to “recognize the State of Palestine,” in addition to renewing calls for the countries of the world to recognize the “State of Palestine” in accordance with relevant international resolutions. Both moves come in direct defiance of a request by U.S. President Donald Trump, who specifically asked the Palestinian Authority leader to “hold off” on any unilateral international moves against Israel in order to give the American peace initiatives a chance.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.

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