Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas used the platform of the Arab League summit in Sharm el-Shekh, Egypt, this Saturday to attack his “unity partner” Hamas, making a subtle call for the Arab states to take military action against the Gaza-based Muslim Brotherhood offshoot.
Speaking at the 26th summit in the southern Sinai peninsula, Abbas made reference to the campaign of airstrikes launched last Thursday by Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries against Iran-backed Shi’ite Houthi rebels in Yemen – the Houthis have overthrown the government while rapidly expanding their control.
“I hope that the Arab countries will take the same policy they employed in Yemen for all Arab countries suffering from internal conflict – like Palestine, Syria, Libya and Iraq,” Abbas said according to Yedioth Aharonot, in an open jab at Hamas in Gaza.
Making Abbas’s comments calling for military intervention in “Palestine” all the more pointed is the fact that just two days earlier, Abbas’s adviser on Religious and Islamic Affairs Mahmoud Al-Habbash, who also serves as PA Supreme Sharia (Islamic law) Judge, made similar remarks.
Al-Habbash urged the Arab countries to take action and strike Hamas with an “iron fist,” in an open call for military intervention.
Hamas and the PA signed a unity deal last April, which has done little to damper the enmity raging between the rivals ever since Hamas violently seized control of Gaza in 2007 – the most obvious example of the how the deal has not changed tensions was when Hamas tried to stage a coup against the PA in Judea and Samaria last year.
Responding to Al-Habbash, Hamas said the comment is “a dangerous and not nationalist call.”
Abbas’s call for Arab intervention comes after Arab foreign ministers meeting in Egypt last Thursday declared the establishment of a joint Arab military force, reportedly meant to rapidly respond to security threats to Arab nations.
Arab League secretary-general Nabil al-Arabi was assigned with coordinating the details with the chiefs of staff of the various Arab armies within one month, so as to work out the logistics of establishing the new force.