Abbas: Hamas must 'bend the knee' for more money, or lights out in Gaza

Abbas: Hamas must 'bend the knee' for more money, or lights out in Gaza
The Palestinian president attempted to force Hamas' hand on Saturday, saying he would only resume electricity payments to Israel for Gaza if Hamas agreed to share power.
2 min read
06 August, 2017
Abbas has been warned that he is risking real lives in Gaza [Getty]

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has said Ramallah will make no payments to cover energy costs in the Gaza Strip unless Hamas shares power with Fatah, effectively starving the beseiged land strip of electricity and gas.

Abbas said Hamas must allow the Palestinian Authority to maintain some level of power in Gaza before he could lift his crippling economic blockade.

"We will continue to gradually stop the transfer of funds to the Gaza Strip if Hamas does not abide by the reconciliation initiative," he said.

"We can't establish a Palestinian state without the Gaza Strip."

Abbas held talks with Hamas officials last week to discuss reconciliation and demanded the ruling power in Gaza end its dealings with the exiled Palestinian politician Mohammed Dahlan.

Dahlan ruled Gaza before Hamas came to power and was famous for ordering the torture, arbitrary detention and gangland-style hits against opponents.

Gaza has effectively been under siege by Israel since Hamas came to power in 2007, but has received most of its electricity and fuel from Israel ever since - subsidised by the PA.

In April, the PA began to end energy payments, causing frequent power cuts in Gaza and severe pressure on regional hospitals.

The World Health Organisation warned in June that the blackouts threatened Gaza's health service provision and placed people's lives at real risk.

In order to reverse this trend however, Abbas said he was ready to resume payments in exchange for a power-sharing deal from Hamas.

Hamas published a rewrite of its charter in May, with a reconciliatory nod towards the PA - the first step towards reconciliation.

"Hamas emphasises the need to build Palestinian institutions and national platform on solid and correct democratic bases," the new charter reads.