Israel stops 4 West Bank officials at Gaza border

By Nour Abu Aisha, Friday, April 25, 2014

Israeli authorities barred four Palestinian Liberation Organization officials from crossing the Beit Hanoun border on their way back from the Gaza Strip

Israeli authorities barred four Palestinian Liberation Organization officials from crossing the Beit Hanoun border on their way back from the Gaza Strip

GAZA CITY – Israeli authorities barred four Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) officials from crossing the Beit Hanoun (Erez) border on their way back from the Gaza Strip, a spokesman for the PLO's Fatah movement said Friday.

"Israeli authorities on Thursday night prevented four of the 22 [PLO] representatives from crossing through Beit Hanoun without justification," Hassan Ahmed told Anadolu on Friday.

Al-Ahmed said the delegation, which had spent two days in talks with the rival Hamas group in Gaza, had been set to attend a two-day PLO general conference in Ramallah scheduled for Saturday.

"Israel wants to obstruct the conference," al-Ahmed said.

The PLO delegation sent by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas left Gaza on Thursday after two days of talks, which produced a reconciliation deal between rival factions Hamas and Fatah.

The move unsettled Israel, which considers Hamas a "terrorist organization." In his first comment on the deal, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said – in reference to Abbas' Fatah – that whoever chose Hamas did not want peace with Israel.

In 2011, Hamas and Fatah signed a reconciliation deal under Egyptian sponsorship. The following year, the two sides agreed to form a unity government – to be headed up by Abbas – to pave the way for parliamentary polls.

Ties have remained strained between Hamas – which governs the Gaza Strip – and Fatah – which runs the Palestinian Authority – since 2007, when Hamas routed pro-Fatah forces and seized control of the entire strip.

Beit Hanoun is the main border passage to Ramallah from Gaza via Israel.

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