In this file photo taken on January 23, 2018 Hamas' leader Ismail Haniya delivers a speech in Gaza City on January 23, 2018 (Photo: AFP)
A planned trip to Moscow next week by the leader of Hamas has been canceled, Palestinian officials said on Thursday amid new friction between the Islamist group that controls Gaza and the Palestinian Authority, based in the West Bank.
The Jan. 15 meeting between Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was called off due to Lavrov’s busy schedule, Moussa Abu Marzouk, a senior Hamas official, tweeted. No new date was announced.
The cancellation was first reported by Russia’s Interfax news agency, which cited information from the Palestinian Authority’s ambassador.
A long-running dispute between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority over power-sharing worsened this week when the PA pulled its personnel from Gaza’s Rafah border crossing with Egypt. They were replaced by Hamas employees.
Israel maintains tight restrictions on its border crossings with Gaza, citing security concerns.
Two senior Egyptian security officials met Hamas representatives in Gaza on Thursday to discuss the faltering unity efforts as well as tensions along the border with Israel, Palestinian sources said.
Hamas, which seized the Gaza Strip in a brief Palestinian civil war in 2007, and the PA have failed repeatedly to implement an Egyptian-mediated reconciliation deal.
*This story was edited by Ahram Online.