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In role reversal, Abbas pressures Hamas as Israel allows aid

RAMALLAH, West Bank — The Western-backed Palestinian Authority is threatening to step up pressure on Hamas amid renewed tensions in Gaza, even as Israel allows a lifeline of Qatari aid to flow directly to the Islamic militants.

The unlikely role reversal reflects the two sides’ conflicting priorities.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas wants to reassert his authority over Gaza and scuttle any U.S. or Israeli-backed peace plan that would cement its separation from the occupied West Bank.

Hamas in turn has renewed calls for Abbas to resign. Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya says “Abbas has hurt national unity.”

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seeks to preserve calm ahead of April’s elections and may prefer Hamas’ continued rule to a collapse of authority in the blockaded territory, home to 2 million Palestinians.