Palestinian PM Hamdallah survives Gaza assassination attempt

GAZA: Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah survived an assassination attempt in Gaza yesterday, the Palestinian Authority said after an apparent roadside bomb targeted his motorcade.

The attack on the Western-backed leader, who is spearheading the Authority's reconciliation efforts with Gaza's dominant group, Hamas, happened on the day the White House was due to hold a meeting on the humanitarian situation in the enclave.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for what one Palestinian Authority security official in Gaza said was a roadside bomb blast.

Hamas has condemned the attack.

Minutes after the explosion, the 59-year-old Prime Minister, appearing unhurt, delivered a speech at the inauguration of a waste treatment plant and pledged to continue to pursue Palestinian unity.

He said three vehicles were damaged in the explosion. The blast left a crater by the side of the road and blew out the windows of at least one utility vehicle.

The Authority said it held Hamas responsible for the attack, stopping short of directly accusing the group of carrying out the assault but suggesting it had failed to provide adequate security.

Hamas and the Palestinian Authority led by President Mahmoud Abbas are still divided over how to share administrative power in the Gaza Strip under an Egyptian-brokered unity deal. Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007 from forces loyal to Mr Abbas.

"The attack against the government of consensus is an attack against the unity of the Palestinian people," said Mr Nabil Abu Rdainah, a spokesman for Mr Abbas.

In a statement, Hamas said the targeting of Mr Hamdallah's motorcade was "part of an attempt to damage the security of Gaza and deal a blow to efforts to finalise reconciliation".

The White House was due to hold a meeting yesterday, addressed by US President Donald Trump's Middle East peace negotiator, Mr Jason Greenblatt, and Mr Trump's son-in-law, Mr Jared Kushner, who are putting together US proposals for a peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians.

In past years, Palestinian factions opposed to peace talks with Israel have carried out attacks timed to coincide with such initiatives. - AFP