Palestinian PM in Gaza for major reconciliation effort

Posted October 04, 2017

In what was seen as a gesture of goodwill, Hamas invited Hamdallah's unity government, led by Fatah, to take control of administrating Gaza last month.

Oct.3: Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah has pledged to end a decade-long split between the Islamist Hamas Movement of Gaza and his West Bank-based government during a cabinet meeting in Gaza, which was held for the first time since 2014.

Despite the caution, fed by the failure of previous attempts at reconciliation, this visit is to prepare the ground for a gradual transfer of responsibilities -at least calendar - from Hamas to the palestinian Authority, which issued the government of Prime minister Rami Hamdallah.

"We are not prepared to accept bogus reconciliations" in which the Palestinians reconcile "at the expense of our existence", he said.

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The latest development is a major step towards reconciliation with Hamas and simulateously ending the territorial division between the West Bank and Gaza.

Michael Oren, deputy minister for diplomacy in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's cabinet, said a key issue for Israel was whether Hamas, which is dedicated to Israel's destruction, would retain its weapons.

"The return of the Palestinian Authority" to Gaza "is a milestone for the Palestinian Authority and of President Trump's deal of the century", Zomlot said, using a phrase Abbas used in a meeting with Trump on September 20.

"I'm convinced that you are able to implement your promises for the benefit of your people", he said.

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The negotiations have been facilitated by Egypt, largely by Cairo's directorate of general intelligence, which has indicated an increasing willingness to play a role in Gaza. Unemployment is estimated at over 40 percent, Gaza's 2 million residents are virtually barred from traveling overseas, and residents have electricity for only a few hours a day.

Netanyahu said any move toward reconciliation must take into account recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, dismantlement of the Hamas military wing and a severance of diplomatic relations with Iran.

And perhaps most critically, Hamas has improved relations with the Egyptian government of President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi. The 82-year-old Palestinian leader has said the rift with Gaza is his greatest regret.

The deal has drawn skepticism from veteran Palestinian officials, who argue that Hamas has no intention of adopting Abbas's commitment to making peace with Israel and only accepted the agreement to escape the burden of governing Gaza. For one thing, this is far from being the first attempt at Hamas-Fatah reconciliation, all the others having broken down sooner or later - and usually sooner.

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Peace Envoy Jason Greenblatt inside a Hamas terror tunnel on the border with Israel, August 30, 2017.