Hamas Accepts PA Reconciliation Demands to Dissolve Gaza Administration, Hold Elections

Aaron Brown
September 18, 2017

According to the statement, Hamas is also ready to hold general elections.

Paving the way for possible reconciliation between the West Bank and Gaza, Hamas said Sunday it would dissolve the Gaza administrative committee, allowing a Palestinian unity government to work in its place and move toward general elections. Hamas and Fatah then fought a civil war in Gaza in 2007.

Repeated attempts at reconciliation between the two factions have failed in the past.

The Hamas movement, which has ruled the Gaza Strip since it forcibly seized control in 2007, said it is ready to meet in Cairo with Abbas' Fatah party and other factions on the formation of a unity government.

Fatah, meanwhile, said on Sunday that it welcomed the pledge by its rival Hamas to accept key conditions for reconciliation.

Hamas is also under further pressure from an aggressive policy from Abbas, who governs in the West Bank, and who in June asked Israel to substantially cut its electricity supply to Gaza's 2 million residents.

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For the past several months, Fatah and its chairman Mahmoud Abbas have called on Hamas to make and implement such an announcement. Hamas is under growing financial pressure as Egypt has destroyed numerous smuggling tunnels Hamas used previously, and Abbas has turned up the screws on the rival Hamas by refusing to pay for electricity in Gaza, and cutting salaries for civil servants. 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.

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".

Hamas has been weakened by an Israeli and Egyptian blockade, three wars with Israel and worldwide isolation. A delegation from Abbas' Fatah arrived in the Egyptian capital two days ago. The decision of Hamas to finally hold negotiations with Fatah may indicate first steps towards reconciliation.

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.

In exchange, Egypt is supposed to alleviate its blockade of Gaza by opening the Rafah crossing - the only way out of Gaza except through Israel - as well as increase commercial ties with the Strip.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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