Palestinian Prime Minister and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh has rejected a decision by President Mahmoud Abbas to take control of security at border crossings in the Gaza Strip.
The Abbas decree wresting control of border security from the prime minister sets the stage for the first direct confrontation between the president, who heads the moderate Fatah party, and the Hamas prime minister. The two officials were set to meet later Thursday.
Sources close to Mr. Abbas say he issued the decree after threats from the European Union to withdraw its monitors from a key crossing linking Gaza and Egypt, in response to Hamas's rise to power. Israel, the EU and the United States consider Hamas a terrorist organization.
Under an agreement brokered by the United States in 2004, four of seven Palestinian security operations - including border security - were placed under control of the prime minister. The move was implemented to break former Palestinian President Yasser Arafat's monopoly on control of security operations in the occupied territories.