Palestinian reconciliation - reasons for hope?

MOHAMMED ABED
Palestinian PM arrives in Gaza, first visit since 2015
Author

05 October, 2017

The Palestinian prime minister led a delegation from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip on Monday for talks with Hamas in the most ambitious attempt to reconcile the rival political factions since the Islamic militant group seized control of the seaside territory over a decade ago.

Hamas has controlled Gaza since seizing it from the PA in a near civil war in 2007 and multiple previous reconciliation attempts have failed.

After meeting Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah in Gaza, UN Special Co-ordinator for the peace process Nickolay Mladenov said the development "should facilitate the lifting of the movement and access restrictions on Gaza".

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah chairs a cabinet meeting for the first time since 2014 in Gaza City, October 3, 2017.

Bennett said that three conditions would be set as conditions for continuing to transfer funds to the PA, including the return of two bodies of Israeli soldiers killed in the 2014 war on Gaza.

Gaza and the West Bank are supposed to form a future independent state but internationally recognised president Mahmud Abbas, long the negotiating partner for Israel, has been undermined by Hamas' control of Gaza.

Abbas in an TV News Agency that will not tolerate any strong Hamas in Gaza, comparing the Fatah rival to Hezbollah.

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However, Hamas' senior leader, Ismail Haniya, voiced his disagreement in an interview in Gaza broadcast on Egypt's ONTV.

But key sticking points, primarily Hamas' refusal to disarm its powerful military wing, are likely to complicate or even derail the reconciliation efforts in the coming weeks. This is part of a deal with the US-backed dictatorship in Egypt.

Israel, however, says it will reject any deal between the two factions in which Hamas is allowed to keep its weapons. "Achieving Palestinian reconciliation encourages donor nations to meet their commitments towards Gaza", he said, going on to call on the global community to put pressure on Israel to "lift the siege on the Gaza Strip".

Mr Abbas also ruled out any lifting of the crippling sanctions including halting payments for Gaza's electricity and slashing salaries of government employees that he imposed on Gaza over the last six months in response to Hamas's naming of an administrative committee to govern Gaza.

The holding of a council of ministers in Gaza must prefigure the transfer of responsibilities from Hamas to the palestinian Authority.

Hamas then pushed Fatah out of Gaza in a bloody conflict, when the latter refused to recognise the result of the vote.

Hamas does not accept Israel's right to exist. "The Palestinian cause has been one of Egypt's top priorities during meetings with world leaders or through Egypt's participation in worldwide forums", Sisi said. Bennett is expected to bring up these demands in the upcoming cabinet meeting.


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