Senior Palestinian Authority officials have accused US Secretary of State John Kerry of favoring Hamas, according to a report by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), insisting that Kerry had presented his own proposal to cater to Hamas-backed Qatar and Turkey.
Speaking anonymously, a senior Palestinian official told the London-based Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat last week that Kerry had tried “to destroy the Egyptian initiative and the Palestinian comments on it (the ‘Abbas Plan) and present a substitute for our initiative… Kerry wanted to create an framework that would be an alternative to the Egyptian initiative and to our concept regarding it, in order to please Qatar and Turkey.”
Kerry’s involvement was not simply the product of US naivete, according to the official, but a calculated attempt to strengthen the Muslim Brotherhood’s influence in Egypt.
“Kerry proposed his initiative after we were very close to a comprehensive agreement guaranteeing the lifting of the siege on Gaza and obtaining all the Palestinian demands,” the official insisted. “If the issue was lifting the siege, abolishing the buffer zones, opening the crossings, and expanding the fishing zones, we could have obtained this on Wednesday [July 23]. An announcement of [this achievement] was ready for publication – but (Hamas political bureau head Khaled) Mash’al called a press conference and destroyed the [‘Abbas] initiative.”
“Then [Kerry] presented a new initiative,” he continued. “Kerry wanted to take advantage of the war in order to again strengthen the Muslim Brotherhood’s regional influence, because the Americans think – and will be proven wrong – that that moderate political Islam represented by the Muslim Brotherhood can combat radical Islam.”
The official added that Mahmoud Abbas was “very angry” about Kerry’s proposed Paris talks over a Gaza ceasefire, noting that Turkey and Qatar were invited – but Egypt was not. Abbas allegedly expressed his views on the conference to French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.
Fatah and PLO representatives later stated that Turkey, Qatar, and Hamas “do not represent the Palestinian people,” and that the only “valid” representative for international talks is the PLO itself.
Furthermore, several former ministers and politicians in the PA government, including Hassan ‘Asfour and ‘Omar Al-Ghoul, proposed in Op/Ed articles in Arabic language magazines that Kerry’s initiative served not only to re-institute the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, but also to “get rid of the PLO.”
The accusations surface despite the formation of a Hamas-Fatah unity government in June, which is slowly crumbling after differences of opinion have surfaced over several issues, including the war in Gaza, reactions to the abduction and murder of three Israeli teenagers, and the delayed payment of wages for government workers in Gaza in the weeks leading up to the current conflict.