Palestinian rivals agree to end internal split for reconciliation

Source: Xinhua| 2017-09-17 17:04:15|Editor: ZD
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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (Xinhua file photo)

by Saud Abu Ramadan

GAZA, Sept. 17 (Xinhua) -- Rival Hamas movement and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Fatah Party agreed on Sunday to reconcile, form a unity government soon and prepare for the general parliamentary and presidential elections, an official Hamas statement said.

"Hamas dissolves the administrative committee and invites the consensus government of Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah to come to the Gaza Strip immediately to practice its missions and carry out its duties," said Hamas statement issued from Cairo on Sunday predawn.

Hamas agreed to dissolve the administrative committee it had formed in March last year to run the daily affairs in the Gaza Strip, the coastal enclave that Hamas has been ruling since it had violently taken control of it in the summer of 2007.

The formation of Hamas committee, which was considered by Abbas as a shadow government, caused Abbas' tight unprecedented measures against the Gaza Strip, such as reducing 30 percent of the employee salaries, stop paying for electricity services and sending 7,000 employees to early retirement.

Hamas announcement came following eight days of a dialogue in Cairo between senior Egyptian security intelligence officials and a senior Hamas delegation, headed by the top leaders of the movement, including Ismail Haneya, Hamas politburo chief.

On Friday, Abbas brought an official Fatah delegation to Cairo to join the reconciliation dialogue that Egypt has been sponsoring, before which Abbas chaired a meeting for Palestine Liberation organization executive committee in Ramallah.

Hamas statement, which consisted of four points, also said that the movement accepted to hold the general, presidential and legislative elections in the Palestinian territories, the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem.

Last presidential elections were held in 2005 and legislative elections in 2006.

It also said that Hamas movement is ready to response to the Egyptian invitation to resume the dialogue soon with Fatah Party on the mechanisms of the full implementation of Cairo Reconciliation Agreement that was reached between the two sides in May 2011.

"Hamas agreed to start the dialogue with Fatah movement on the formation of a Palestinian unity government in the framework of a comprehensive dialogue that includes other Palestinian factions and political powers who also signed in 2011 Cairo agreement," said the Hamas statement.

In May 2011, President Mahmoud Abbas and former Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal signed in Cairo a reconciliation agreement that included the formation of a unity government that prepares for general elections within six months; however, the two sides failed to implement it immediately.

The failure was due to deep differences on handing security control to the Palestinian Authority, where the two sides kept trading accusations on who is the party that hinders and blocks the implementation of the agreement until April 2014.

In April 2014, Hamas, Fatah and the PLO factions signed on Shatti (Beach) agreement at the house of the current Hamas chief Ismail Haneya in western Gaza, and agreed to form a consensus technocrat government that runs both Gaza and the West Bank headed by Rami Hamdallah.

The first consensus government was formed in June 2014. However, in July 2014, Israel waged a large-scale military offensive on the Gaza Strip that last 50 days. At the end of the war, Hamas and Fatah disagreed on whether the consensus government should pay the salaries of 42,000 Hamas employees or not.

Trade of accusations and disagreements went deeper between the two sides, until Hamas formed the committee to run Gaza and accused the consensus government and Abbas of turning their backs on the Gaza Strip.

Forming the committee outraged Abbas and urged him to carry out punitive measures against Gaza.

Fawzi Barhoum, Hamas spokesman in Gaza said in an emailed press statement that Hamas has positively responded to the big Egyptian efforts, which were exerted to achieve reconciliation and ending more than 10 years of internal Palestinian division.

"This position puts President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah movement in front of the Egyptian efforts and in front of the Palestinian people before a real test in order to achieve our people's aspirations, achieve a real unity and a real partnership," said Barhoum.

Talal Oukal, a Gaza-based political analyst and academic said there is apparently "a wave of optimism this time because it seems that the Egyptians are more serious than before," adding that Hamas and Egypt's ties are getting better, so Hamas "is keen to keep these ties good with Egypt."

"As a result of having Fatah delegation in Cairo, Hamas has been put under the pressure of Egypt and Fatah delegation to immediately respond to Abbas call of dissolving its administrative committee, and it really did and agreed to dissolve it," said Oukal.

However, he wondered if "Hamas committee is the only obstacle for reaching full reconciliation and ending internal division," saying that he is "personally consciously optimistic," because there are many questions that need answers.

Officials also said more information was needed before considering it a done deal.

"Hamas's step is a positive indication if they really dissolved the administrative committee and showed its willingness to hand over control to the unity government," Mahmoud al-Aloul, a member of Abbas Fatah party, told Voice of Palestine radio.