PLO considers declaring Gaza a ‘rebel region’

August 10th, 2008 - 7:31 pm ICT by IANS  

Ramallah, Aug 10 (Xinhua) The executive committee of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), its highest decision making body, has been considering declaring the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip “a rebel region”, sources said Sunday. The PLO executive discussed the plan recently after peaceful efforts to end the split between the West Bank and Gaza failed, the sources said.

“A growing opinion among the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) in Ramallah is taking shape to call for settling the situation with the Gaza Strip by force,” the sources said.

In June 2007, Hamas ousted the long-dominant Fatah movement loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas and seized control of the coastal strip.

As Hamas tightened its grip on Gaza, Abbas consolidated his rule in the West Bank.

Efforts to make reconciliation between the two sides often failed as each party cracked down on the supporters of the other party.

Before declaring Gaza a hostile entity, the Palestinian leadership wants “to give the last chance for the Egyptian government and the Arab League to convince Hamas to immediately end its coup and engage in dialogue,” the sources said.

“But the door for dialogue will not keep open forever and the leadership has given one month’s time for the efforts,” the sources added.

A declaration of Gaza as “a rebel territory ruled by armed militia” would halt all services to the Strip, such as coordinating for sending food and paying for electricity and water supplies, they said.

The Gaza banks will also be asked to shut down and the PNA will stop sending currency.

The leadership, at the end, will call on the UN to send forces to liberate Gaza from Hamas.

Commenting on the report, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoom said such a decision “will be a dangerous thing if it was officially made. ”

“It will boost the internal split and separate Gaza from the West Bank,” Barhoom said, adding “Fatah elements who dominate the PLO’s executive committee have a plan to prevent any attempt of reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah.”

He also said such a decision would be “sort of punishment for 1.5 million Gazans.”

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