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Saudi Arabia Backs Abbas on Dispute With Hamas Over Reconciliation Deal

Embroiled in a dispute with Hamas over control in Gaza, the Palestinian president is trying to drum up support and economic aid from the Saudis, official tells Haaretz

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has received full backing from Saudi Arabia regarding his position on the reconciliation with Hamas, particularly in regard to the issue of putting all weapons under a single authority, a senior Palestinian official told Haaretz.
The official, who is in Abbas’ inner circle, said the backing was received in regard to the dispute that erupted around implementing the reconciliation agreement.

A disagreement over the issue of day-to-day security and the operation of the Palestinian security services is at the heart of the conflict, particularly as they pertain to the border crossings and the operation of the government in Gaza City.
The senior official said that in the past few days, Abbas has been trying to drum up support for his position as well as generous economic aid, to allow the government in the Gaza Strip to function and to ease the humanitarian crisis there.
“Coordinating positions with the Saudis is most vital because it means coordination with most of the Gulf States that can provide the PA with an economic safety net,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
PA officials are cautious about portraying the coordination with the Saudis as a response to new signs that Hamas is drawing closer to Hezbollah and Iran. In recent weeks, a Hamas delegation visited Tehran and senior Hamas official Saleh al-Aruri met with Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah. But PA officials did not deny that coordination with the Saudis provides Abbas with very critical political and economic backing. Officials close to Abbas vehemently rejected reports that the conversation with the Saudis had an overtone of a Saudi warning or threat.
“Anyone trying to compare the Hariri affair with the Saudis and Abu Mazen’s standing is making a big mistake,” said one official, referring to the disappearance of the Lebanese prime minister after he resigned from Saudi Arabia and referring to Abbas’ nom de guerre. “The talk was about coordination, and it focused on three points. One, supporting reconciliation and the president’s position on the arms issue; two, economic assistance; and three, that any diplomatic and regional settlement will be based on the Arab peace initiative, without any change.”
Abbas visited Saudi Arabia after Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah announced that his government could not function and operate the border crossings properly unless it was fully in charge of security in the Gaza Strip. Hamas reacted harshly, seeing Hamdallah’s statement as an attempt to renegotiate the reconciliation deal.
Hamas officials stress their men left the border crossings and government offices to the PA but expect their security forces to be integrated into the PA’s force rather than fired. Hamas noted disarming itself was out of the question.
Civil Affairs Minister Hussein Al-Sheikh announced an Egyptian security delegation would visit Gaza in the coming days to advance the security issue based on the Cairo agreement. It is unclear if the PA and Egypt will open the Rafah crossing by Wednesday as planned. PA officials say they believe it will be opened in stages.
Egypt has invited the sides to a meeting on November 21 to implement the agreement further, including assembling a national unity government, holding elections and setting parameters to integrate all groups into the PLO.

Jack Khoury

Haaretz Correspondent

read more: https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/…/.premium-1.822422

Saudi Arabia Backs Abbas on Dispute With Hamas Over Reconciliation Deal

Tags: #politics, #GAZA, #arabia saudita

Video of the Week New Clashes Erupt Between Israeli Security Forces, Muslim Worshippers

Temple Mount temporarily closed to Jewish visitors after clashes with police

The Temple Mount was temporarily closed to Jewish visitors on Wednesday at the order of Jerusalem District Commander Yoram Halevy after Jews broke visitation rules at the holy site, police said. The Jewish visitors were expelled from the compound for bringing sacred books to the Mount and trying to pray there. After one of the individuals was cautioned, another took out a holy book, and the group was expelled. Meanwhile, renewed clashes erupted between protesters and Israeli security forces near the Lion's Gate in the Old City, where police used stun grenades against the demonstrators. A regular dynamic has developed involving clashes between Palestinians and Israel Police over the past several days near the Lion's Gate. Dozens of Palestinians are present at the site on a regular basis, urging devotion to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount and condemning Israel. During Muslim prayer times, particularly the midday and nighttime prayers, hundreds and sometimes even thousands have been gathering there.

There have been outbreaks of violence during these periods, including stone-throwing or physical confrontations with the police. In most of these incidents, the police have been using stun grenades and sponge-tipped bullets to disperse the crowds. In a number of cases, journalists in the area have also suffered violence at the hands of the police. On Tuesday, Hassan Shaalan, a reporter for the Ynet news website, was struck by a policeman even after he identified himself as a member of the press. A group of Jerusalem-based journalists released a statement of condemnation over the incident and called on the police to permit reporters to do their jobs. The Jerusalem Police responded: "This involved an incident that took place in the course of violent disturbances of the peace that occurred in Jerusalem while the police were acting to remove the demonstrators from the street after some of them refused to vacate. The forces working on the scene are under constant threat to their lives. http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.802141

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