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Hamas, Palestinian Authority Clash Over Arafat Accusations

Hamas prevents commemorative celebrations for Arafat in light of PA-backed study; PA: Hamas 'doesn't care' about Arafat's death.
By Tova Dvorin
First Publish: 11/11/2013, 5:05 PM

Posters of former PA Chairman Yasser Arafat
Posters of former PA Chairman Yasser Arafat
AFP photo

The Palestinian Authority (PA) may intend to cause an international incident over scientific reports that Yasser Arafat was poisoned. Instead, AFP reports, the may have caused an internal fiasco - tensions with Hamas. 

On Monday Hamas banned public commemorations of Arafat's death, accusing the PA of making an exclusively Fatah ceremony and of excluding Hamas members from participation. The move follows calls from Hamas leaders on Fatah to end both last week's peace talks with US Secretary of State John Kerry and to end the investigation into the former PA Chairman's death. 

Tawfiq Tirawi, the head of the PA's inquiry into the death, hit back, saying: "If Hamas really cared [. . .] they would allow festivities to go ahead in Gaza." 

The tensions come at a critical time for both Palestinian Arab factions. Hamas faces mass civilian protests today orchestrated by the rebel group Tamarod. Tamarod has called for Hamas's ouster in response to reports of continues oppression of Gaza residents and the deprivation of their most basic rights and freedoms. 

BBC reported earlier this week that some 45,000 signatures have been gathered by Tamarod activists in support of a nonviolent demonstration. Hamas officials have already stated that they are not concerned about the movement succeeding; however, Tamarod has already helped orchestrated a successful rebellion in neighboring Egypt, having instigated the ouster of Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood President Muhammed Morsi. 

The PA is also facing a critical period in the wake of last week's peace talks. While the PA managed to successfully take 75 million dollars of US aid money, its demands have not been met for Israel to retreat from Judea and Samaria, and many PA residents themselves believe that another intifada is looming. The last intifada killed about 1,000 Israelis and also roughly 3,000 Palestinian Arabs. 

Tensions have erupted between the PA and Hamas before. In 2011 leaders of both movements verbally sparred over the Gilad Shalit deal and over PA efforts to attain statehood at the UN.