April 22, 2018

Palestinian Authority Pressing for Full Gaza Rule, Premier Says

04 October 2017, 12:07 | Rufus Hill

Palestinian PM arrives in Gaza, first visit since 2015


The Gaza Strip is still recovering from that war; almost half its residents are unemployed, and a blockade on Gaza imposed by Egypt and Israel after Hamas took control remains in place.

Israel tacitly agreed to the reconciliation efforts, certainly in its first stages, and allowed a Palestinian delegation to travel through its territory on its way to Gaza.

In public remarks at a lunch with Hamdallah, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh appeared to be uncompromising about any accommodation with Israel, calling for the establishment of a Palestinian state "on the full Palestinian soil with Jerusalem as its capital and the return of refugees to their lands and homes".

The real work begins next week in Cairo, where Egyptian mediators will host talks between the Palestinian rivals.

The spokesman said all government bodies will start working on the urgent missions in response to Gaza's requirements including water, electricity and the reconstruction work.

Nickolay Mladenov, the United Nations special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, wrote on Twitter: "The road ahead will be long and hard, but momentum of reconciliation and peace should not be missed". "We will be faced with obstacles and challenges, but our people are able to rise again from among destruction and suffering", said Mr Hamdallah.

Hamdallah is a member of Fatah, the party that governs the West Bank through the PA. Unemployment is estimated at well over 40 percent, Gaza's 2 million residents are virtually barred from traveling overseas, and residents receive electricity for just a few hours a day.

Hamas' newly elected leadership has said it prefers to return to the group's roots as a "resistance" movement battling Israel.

Huge posters of Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who brokered the reconciliation effort, were featured outside Abbas' residence as Hamas policemen were deployed all around.

The latest developments have come as Hamas finds itself increasingly isolated internationally, not least by the Saudi-led embargo of Qatar, a long-time supporter of Gaza, which has forced Hamas to try to make its peace with Egypt. Abbas understands as much.

Abbas, meanwhile, had demanded the Hamas group relinquish its arsenal.

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. Now the "reconciliation" with Fatah shows how Hamas has been weakened.

"We are not prepared to accept bogus reconciliations in which the Palestinian side apparently reconciles at the expense of our existence", Netanyahu said in a statement.

Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah arrived in Gaza on Monday to flag-waving crowds. But while this looks like a victory for PA President Mahmoud Abbas, things are not as straightforward for him as they might seem.

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