By Evangelist.com.ng edition, Wednesday, December, 27, 2023. Admin.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and members of the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organisation pray before a meeting in Ramallah on Monday. AFP
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The Palestinian Authority wants a complete cessation of hostilities in Gaza and the delivery of humanitarian aid and is ready to assume its responsibilities in the besieged strip if the conditions are met, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said.
“The Palestinian Authority is ready to assume its responsibilities in Gaza, the West Bank, and Jerusalem as a single Palestinian state,” Mr Abbas told an Egyptian channel in his first interview since the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza began on October 7.
“We want a comprehensive halt to the fighting, the opening of the borders for humanitarian aid, and the prevention of forced displacement of Palestinians outside their homeland,” he said.
Mr Abbas, leader of the Fatah party, said that a Palestinian state must be established in the aftermath of the war and that it must be made up of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.
Fatah is the dominant faction in the Palestinian Authority, which governs parts of the Israel-occupied West Bank, while its rival Hamas has ruled Gaza since it seized power there in 2007.
Mr Abbas’s latest statements come as Egypt pushed a peace proposal to all parties that addresses the “day-after” scenarios once Israel ends the war in Gaza.
Egyptian sources told Reuters that Hamas and fellow Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad, who have been holding separate talks with Egyptian mediators in Cairo, have so far rejected offering any concessions beyond the possible release of more hostages seized on October 7 as their gunmen killed about 1,200 people in attacks in southern Israel.
Egypt proposed elections while offering assurances to Hamas that its members would not be pursued or prosecuted, but the Islamist group rejected any concessions other than hostage releases, the sources said. More than 100 hostages are still believed to be held in Gaza.
Addressing the Palestinian Authority’s role in Gaza, Mr Abbas repeatedly insisted that Fatah had never left Gaza.
Palestinians at the Rafah border crossing in Egypt after being evacuated from the Gaza Strip. AFP Palestinians at the Rafah border crossing in Egypt after being evacuated from the Gaza Strip. AFP “We don’t need to return to Gaza, we are already there,” he told Lamis Elhadidy on the Egyptian ON television channel.
“However, we remain here [the West Bank] and we are also in Gaza despite Hamas’s coup in 2007. We didn’t change our position on Gaza,” he said.
“Our institutions, our cadres, our youth are still in Gaza and just so you know, we continue to pay Gaza – its people, its schools, its institutions, its water, its electricity –140 million US dollars each month. We still have the cadres and the infrastructure present to take over rule in Gaza.”
With widespread destruction of buildings and infrastructure and most of the population forced out of their homes, Mr Abbas said Israel’s current war in Gaza was worse than the Nakba – the term used by Palestinians for their desplacement from what is now Israel during its creation in 1948.
“Gaza has been destroyed six times before, but this time has never happened in this way anywhere in the world. This is bigger than a Nakba,” he said.
“It is worse and more horrific than 1948 because everything has been destroyed in Gaza. They even destroyed the mosques and churches. Homes, institutions, mosques and schools have been completely annihilated. Streets and alleys have been levelled. Whoever visits Gaza now will not recognise it. It will require tens of billions to bring life back to Gaza.”