Politicians Targeted in PA Violence
A Palestinian Authority minister came under attack on Wednesday, the Bethlehem-based Maan news reports.
Minister of Islamic Endowments Mahmoud Habbash was targeted by unknown gunmen shortly after arriving at his office in Al-Bireh, near Ramallah. The masked men opened fire in the direction of the office.
Al-Bireh’s guards returned fire, and the shooters fled the scene. No casualties were reported.
Earlier Wednesday a scuffle broke out between a PA lawmaker and a senior Fatah official. Lawmaker Fatah Jamal Abu al-Rub attacked Fatah central committee member Jibril Rajoub, Maan reports.
The incident took place in a hotel in Ramallah. Witnesses intervened to prevent al-Rub’s attack from becoming an all-out brawl.
Al-Rub was reportedly seeking revenge after being physically attacked by Rajoub’s guards one month earlier.
The incidents come as the PA reports steps toward unity with the Hamas terror movement. The Fatah-led PA split from Hamas several years ago following Hamas’ violent takeover of Gaza.
The Fatah-Hamas split has led some Israeli leaders to express concern over Israel-PA talks, which, they argue, cannot lead to a permanent agreement due to the fact that PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas does not speak for Gaza. Abbas’ status as representative has also come into question due to the fact that his term in office expired several years ago; he has declined to hold new elections, citing the Fatah-Hamas split as an impediment to voting.
A Hamas-Fatah reconciliation would pose problems to Israel-PA negotiations as well: Hamas openly seeks Israel’s destruction and continues to commit terrorist attacks, and has responded to the latest round of negotiations with a call for zero compromise with Israel on any issue.