Palestinian PM Arrives in Gaza in First Step in Reconciliation

Marsha Scott
October 3, 2017

While administrative control will be handed over, the Hamas government will retain authority over security, a factor that political analysts say is likely to result in the failure of the unity government.

But the fate of Hamas' armed wing, the Iz al-Din al-Qassam brigades, remains a strong point of contention.

The Palestinian Authority, the internationally recognised Palestinian government, has been at odds with Hamas for more than a decade, after the Islamists seized Gaza in a near civil war.

An Egyptian delegation entered Gaza via the Erez crossing yesterday.

Netanyahu sees the deal as a Hamas effort to gain global legitimacy without changing its aim to destroy Israel, according to an Israeli official who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the issue's political delicacy.

Hamas agreed last month to a longstanding PA demand for elections, which would be the first in the Palestinian Territories since 2006.

The Quartet, an worldwide body represented by the US, UN, EU and Russian Federation, said last Thursday that the reunification of the West Bank and Gaza under the PA would "unlock global support for Gaza's growth, stability and prosperity".

Asked whether the United States would accept reconciliation between Hamas and the PA, Mladenov said it was too early for such discussions.

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Multiple previous reconciliation efforts have failed, but the United Nations envoy for the Middle East peace process, Nikolay Mladenov, told AFP there were real reasons to believe they could buck the trend.

On Saturday evening, Haniyeh released a statement saying, "The reconciliation is a will and a decision, to prevent Israel from swallowing up the West Bank and continuing its siege of the Gaza Strip".

The PA's official news agency Wafa reported that Hamdallah arrived in Gaza via the Israeli-controlled Erez crossing, to a "popular reception".

Following the press conference on Monday, Hamdallah visited the Shujaiyeh neighborhood in Gaza, where he met with a Palestinian who lost his home during Operation Protective Edge. This complicates any potential involvement in a Palestinian government, particularly as they provide financial support for the PA.

Accordingly, a senior PA official last week again discounted the emergence of such a scenario, telling the Haaretz daily that Abbas has vehemently rejected the so-called "Hizbullah model". The PA does not believe in the legitimacy of Hamas' arms.

Another passerby, Nidal Hammad, a young engineer, has a very clear idea what a government of national unity should deal with first: "I want the government to help people, to create work opportunities and certainly more jobs".

Likewise, the greater worldwide community will be hard-pressed to engage with Hamas, as any distinction between its "political" and "military" wings would effectively be nullified, a technicality which Hizbullah uses to operate to some degree on European soil.

Along with the European Union and Israel, the U.S. views Hamas, which has fought three wars with Israel since 2008, as a terrorist group. But we are determined to tackle every issue and solve it in the best interest of our national cause.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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