Friday, 23 February, 2018

Palestine cabinet pledges to end split with Hamas

MAHMUD HAMS Palestine cabinet pledges to end split with Hamas
Lance Thomas | 05 October, 2017, 00:18

Haniyeh's comments came a day after PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and Hamas leaders met in Gaza in a bid to start work on ending the territorial division between the West Bank and Gaza.

Hamas has had de facto control of Gaza ever since, while Fatah consolidated its power in the West Bank and positioned itself as the sole legitimate political representative of the Palestinian people.

Although Hamas has ruled Gaza for the past decade, it has watched the territory fall deeper into poverty, battered by a joint Israeli-Egyptian blockade and three devastating wars with Israel.

Rami Hamdallah is heading a delegation from the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority, which is taking over from an administration disbanded by Hamas.

He said all outstanding administrative issues, including the issue of public employees, would be gradually dealt with in the framework of the 2014 Cairo agreement "within the available resources".

"We are here to turn the page on division, restore the national project to its correct direction and establish the (Palestinian) state", he said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meanwhile warned against any "bogus" unity bid that would threaten his country if Hamas is allowed to keep its guns.

Hamas has been more open to working with the Palestinian Authority since Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates imposed an economic boycott on its main donor, Qatar, over its alleged support of terrorism.

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

The major bone of contention in the implementation of the truce process would be the future of Hamas's armed wing and its weapons.

"We aren't a branch of any organization outside of Palestine", said Haniyeh.

Hamas recently dissolved its authoritarian government, saying it is ready to hold elections in a move to unify the two sides.

Hamdallah was welcomed by thousands of Gazans, with hopes that this reconciliation plan can avoid the problems that wrecked several previous attempts. Now the "reconciliation" with Fatah shows how Hamas has been weakened. Hamas seeks Israel's destruction and has killed hundreds of Israelis in suicide bombings and other attacks over the years.

Mr Abbas told Egypt's CBC television station late on Monday that he would jail any Hamas members who possess illegal weapons in defiance of what he said will be a policy of all weaponry being in the hands of the PA. But with all the unknowns, she says, people in Gaza remain deeply sceptical about whether the symbolic ceremonies will lead to any changes on the ground this time around.

The deputy head of Hamas' political wing, Dr. Moussa Abu Marzouk, has said that the group's military wing is not up for discussion.

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