The Hamas-run government in Gaza confirmed on Saturday that de-facto Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh will attend the meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement in Iran next week, the Bethlehem-based Ma’an news agency reported.
The move came after officials in Ramallah slammed Tehran for deepening the rift between the two authorities.
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad on Saturday urged his counterpart in Gaza not to attend, after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad invited Haniyeh to join the summit of 120 non-aligned nations.
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, whose Fatah faction controls the PA-assigned areas of Judea and Samaria, was also invited to the meeting.
“This is a serious escalation by Iran against Palestinian unity and against the Palestinian Authority’s role as the guardian of the Palestinian people both in the Gaza Strip and in the West Bank including Jerusalem,” Fayyad said, according to Ma’an.
He added, “Unfortunately, this hostile Iranian position benefited from some recently-emerging trends dealing with Hamas as the representative of the Palestinian people of the Gaza Strip. Followers of this trend claim they do not want to take sides when it comes to Palestinian parties, as if the PA was one of numerous sides rather than being an umbrella for all the Palestinian people and factions.”
Fayyad called on Haniyeh to “give priority to his loyalty to Palestine and his patriotism over any other considerations.”
The PLO Executive Committee also issued a statement on Saturday, saying that Haniyeh's invitation shows “Iran has joined the goals of the Israeli band.”
Hamas and Fatah have had a longtime row since Hamas violently overthrew the Fatah government in Gaza in 2007.
In February, Abbas and Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal signed a new deal which called for the creation of an interim cabinet of independent technocrats selected by the two factions, which would prepare for elections by May 2012.
However, in June, a month after elections were to be held, the two parties had yet to agree on the names of cabinet ministers in the joint administration.
Abbas and Mashaal were expected to meet in Cairo on June 20 to select cabinet ministers for the transitional administration, but Egypt delayed the meeting without setting a new date.
A Fatah official recently accused Hamas of conspiring with Israel to “separate between Gaza and Judea and Samaria and annex Gaza into Egypt.”
The official claimed that Hamas is leading a policy of separating Gaza from the PA-assigned areas of Judea and Samaria, a plan which began to be implemented during the 2005 Israeli disengagement from Gaza. He claimed Hamas has given its blessing to this policy.