Abbas warns of ‘unprecedented steps’ to end political division with Hamas

(JTA) – Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said he would take decisive action to end the political split between his regime and the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.

“These days, we are in a dangerous and tough situation that requires decisive steps, and we are to take these decisive steps,” Abbas said Wednesday, according to an Associated Press report citing the official Palestinian news agency Wafa. “Therefore, we are going to take unprecedented steps in the coming days to end the division.”

In 2007, Hamas drove forces loyal to Abbas from the Gaza Strip, and multiple efforts at reconciliation have since failed, most recently in 2014.

Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman, said Thursday that “the language of threats and dictating orders” would not be accepted.

Abbas’ threat comes ahead of a planned meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump that is expected to focus on Trump’s efforts to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. An exact date for the meeting has not been set, but a Palestinian advance team reportedly is expected to visit Washington, D.C., later this month.

Trump has repeatedly signaled his interest in reviving the moribund Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Last month, his envoy Jason Greenblatt met Abbas in the West Bank. During the meeting, Greenblatt “underscored President Trump’s commitment to working with Israelis and Palestinians to achieve a lasting peace through direct negotiations,” according to a statement released by the American consulate.

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