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.
Ramallah 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 be cooperated with in this capacity.
“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 Ramallah official told TPS.
The PA responded with an attack on Haniyeh through its Wafa news agency and published on Monday an article about “the bowing of Hamas leaders (in Iran) who dwarf the image of the Palestinians” and described Hamas leaders “as hand-kissing beggars.”
PA TV also extensively reported on the Hamas leaders’ “suspicious ties” with Iran.
Hamas’ leadership attended the funeral of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, who was assassinated by the US a week and a half ago.
PA officials have come out against this step by Hamas and warned of the “damage to the Palestinian image” that may be identified as part of the Iranian axis if Hamas continues to announce itself as the representative of the Palestinians.
In a rare move, Wafa warned that Hamas’ attitudes toward Iran will “infiltrate the minds of millions of free people around the world, and will 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. Haniyeh left the Strip a month ago and has since been in Turkey, Egypt and Iran.
Haniyeh fears that he will be punished by Egypt, which let him leave the Strip through its territory on condition that he does not visit Iran, a pledge he breached to attend Soleimani’s funeral.
Egyptian media has 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.