Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday said he would not accept a scenario in the Gaza Strip, in which Hamas’s armed wing would be able to hold onto its weapons.
Abbas’s comments came several hours after PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and Hamas Politburo Chairman Ismail Haniyeh met in Gaza in a bid to start work on ending the decade-long territorial division between the West Bank and Gaza.
Hamas has has controlled Gaza since 2007 when it ousted the Fatah-dominated PA.
“Everything needs to be in the hands of the Palestinian Authority,” Abbas told Egypt’s CBC, a popular Arabic television station, in an interview. “I’ll be even more clear—I will not accept reproducing the Hezbollah experience in Lebanon…We are one state, one system, one law and one weapon.”
Hezbollah maintains control of a number of militias, over which the Lebanese state does not have control.
Abbas’s remarks highlighted the sharp difference of opinion between him and Hamas’s leadership on the future of Gaza’s security.
Last week, both Hamas Deputy Chief in Gaza Khalil al-Hayya and Hamas Politburo member Musa Abu Marzouk said that Hamas’ armed wing’s weapons are not up for discussion.
“No bartering or touching the weapons of the resistance,” Hayya said in an interview with al-Jazeera last Wednesday evening. “We will fight the occupation with all means of resistance until [it] is wiped away.”
Experts estimate that Hamas’s armed wing is compromised of some 25,000 members, who have thousands of guns, rockets and other weapons.
Abbas also said that he will imprison anyone, other than the PA, who possesses weapons.
“If someone from Hamas has a weapon, I’ll put him in prison. Also if someone from Fatah has a weapon I’ll put him in prison,” he said.
In previous reconciliation attempts, Abbas’s party, Fatah, and Hamas failed to reach an agreement on the issue of Gaza’s security.