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Palestinian Authority Threatens to Cut Ties with Israel if Gaza Blockade Lifted

© REUTERS / Ibraheem Abu MustafaPalestinian policemen loyal to Hamas stand guard as fuel tankers enter Gaza through the Rafah border between Egypt and southern Gaza Strip June 21, 2017.
Palestinian policemen loyal to Hamas stand guard as fuel tankers enter Gaza through the Rafah border between Egypt and southern Gaza Strip June 21, 2017. - Sputnik International
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In the most recent flare-up of the Hamas-Fatah rivalry, the intelligence service of the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority (PA) has notified its Israeli counterpart that it will cut security ties with Israel if Tel Aviv helps in any way to lift the maritime blockade of Gaza, which is governed by Hamas.

PA intelligence chief Majed Faraj reportedly sent a letter to Nadav Argaman, his Israeli counterpart, warning that the Palestinian Authority would cut all security ties with Tel Aviv if the Gaza Strip maritime blockade was lifted. Faraj warned the Shin Bet head against any step that would ease the blockade of the Hamas-controlled enclave, which has persisted since 2007, the Palestinian Information Center reported.

The warning comes after Israeli media reported that Egypt and Qatar proposed on May 24 to renew the truce between Hamas and Israel and lift the 10-year maritime blockade of the city of Gaza, which Hamas governs.

According to the Middle East Monitor (MEMO), the Israel-Hamas deal would require that Gazan authorities completely end the firing of rockets at Israel and that they must respect the security perimeter at the Gaza border, including no longer building tunnels underneath it. The deal also demands a solution regarding Israeli prisoners of war.

Hamas militants. (File) - Sputnik International
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In return, MEMO says, Israel would reduce restrictions at Gaza border crossings and allow the entry of goods into the enclave, but only on the condition that said goods don't strengthen Hamas' armed wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades. Egypt has also pledged to ease its border crossing with Gaza and to open the border more frequently.

The proposed truce, however, is not in the interests of the Palestinian Authority, which is dominated by Hamas's long-time rival, Fatah, following the 2006 legislative election and a subsequent armed conflict in Gaza.

According to the PA, the blockade is a key point of pressure on Hamas that will force it to give up control of Gaza, MEMO notes. The Palestinian Authority resorted to pressure after reconciliation talks failed at the end of last year, despite the official reconciliation agreement being signed in October 2017 in Cairo.

The tensions between the two Palestinian groups became stronger after the failed assassination attempt on PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah during his visit to Gaza in March. The PA blamed Hamas for the attack, while some security experts speculated the PA itself could have staged the assassination attempt, which only slightly injured one of Hamdallah's security staff.

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