Hamas' Haniyeh says 'ready to meet' Palestinian Authority rival Abbas

Almost Heaven

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Tensions have been rising between the two largest Palestinian political formations since the end of last year

Hamas political head Ismail Haniyeh said Wednesday he is ready to meet chief rival Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian media reported.

“I am ready to meet with Abbas in Cairo sooner rather than later. Or [for Abbas] to come to Gaza which is part of his homeland,” Haniyeh said.

Relations between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority have been at an all-time low in recent months, threatening to come to a head again on Wednesday after Palestinian Authority workers were reportedly denied entry to the Kerem Shalom crossing point following Hamas security forces demanding they conform to new security measures.

The most recent tit-for-tat escalation between the rival Palestinian movements began in January when Hamas called dozens of Fatah members in the coastal enclave in for questioning and de facto prevented a rally meant to commemorate the movement’s 54th anniversary.

In response, the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority (PA) decided to pull its border security personnel from the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, accusing Hamas of interference.

Shortly afterwards, the Palestinian Legislative Council in Gaza voted to remove PA President Mahmoud Abbas from power in January.

Hamas employees retook the post and negotiated with Egypt, saying they were seeking to maintain control after the PA's withdrawal, eventually leading to the sole passenger crossing between Gaza and Egypt to fully reopen after weeks of strife.