Hamas joins forces with opposition groups in Gaza against Trump plan


Hamas, the Islamist movement in de facto control of the Gaza Strip, on Sunday joined forces with opposition groups in the coastal enclave, to jointly oppose U.S. President Donald Trump's Middle East plan.

Hamas, the more fundamentalist Islamic Jihad, as well as left-wing factions active in Gaza, formed a new popular body, the Highest National Commission, to confront Trump's plan. 

The decision to establish the commission was taken at a conference in Gaza City. A programme of "activities" will be declared later.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who has autonomous control over parts of the West Bank, in Cairo on Saturday squarely rejected the Trump plan unveiled last week, and succeeded in getting the Arab League to issue a harsh statement against it. 

"I won't go down in ... history that I sold out Jerusalem," Abbas said.

Top Abbas' aide Saeb Erekat told Voice of Palestine Radio on Sunday that the collective rejection was a "great victory" for Abbas and the Palestinian people.  

Israeli fighter jets and attack helicopters earlier struck several targets in the northern Gaza Strip overnight, after Palestinians launched several balloons with explosives tied to them, mortar shells and a rocket across the border into Israel. 

The targets affected by the overnight strikes included a tunnel and a building apparently used as a "situation room" by Hamas' military wing, al-Quds Brigades. No injuries were reported and no one has claimed responsibility for the fire into Israel.

The growing tension comes one month ahead of an unprecedented third parliamentary election in a year in Israel on 2 March.

Israel's Channel 12 reported late Saturday that the military was preparing for a possible large-scale escalation, possibly before the vote.

In response to the projectiles and explosive balloons over the past days, Israel has not allowed any cement into Gaza. About 500 Gazan merchants with entry permits are not being allowed to enter Israel until further notice, Israel's Defence Ministry said. 

Under the Trump plan, the U.S. would recognise Israeli sovereignty over its West Bank settlements and Jerusalem would remain Israel's "undivided capital". The Palestinians would be allowed to establish a "state" in Palestinian-populated enclaves on 70 percent of the West Bank – a far cry from the over 93 percent that former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert said he offered Abbas in 2008.    (dpa)


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