Palestinian prime minister visits Hamas-ruled Gaza amid reconciliation efforts

Aaron Brown
October 3, 2017

Rami Hamdallah is expected in Gaza city to attend reconciliation ceremony between the two rivals. It follows Hamas' surprising announcement by earlier this month that it will dissolve its administration and embrace fresh efforts at reunification with Fatah.

Accordingly, a senior PA official last week again discounted the emergence of such a scenario, telling the Haaretz daily that Abbas has vehemently rejected the so-called "Hizbullah model".

For Israel, the prospect of Hamas preserving any form of "security" control over Gaza, along with the Rafah border crossing into Egypt, could prevent Jerusalem from significantly easing the blockade on the Strip-which suffers from severe water and electricity shortages and unemployment of more than 40 percent.

In recent months, Abbas has sought to put further pressure on Islamist Hamas by further reducing the already meager power supply to the Gaza Strip.

But the fate of Hamas' armed wing, the Iz al-Din al-Qassam brigades, remains a strong point of contention. "They are hopeful that this step will alleviate the hard economic situation in Gaza, the border crossings will be open more often, the issue of PA employees will be solved, and that electricity [will] be returned", Modallal told Al Jazeera.

According to a spokesman for Gaza's Interior Ministry, the Hamas security services in Gaza have prepared for the arrival of PA ministers and their entourages of hundreds, most of whom plan to arrive on Monday.

Shaath explained that Fawzi will head to Gaza after his meeting with Abbas to overlook the government handover process after the Islamic Hamas movement dissolved the "administrative committee" that it formed past year to act instead of the government.

Also helping to arrange the agreement were Egyptian President Abdel-Fatah el-Sisi, who wants Hamas' cooperation in deterring attacks on Egyptian soldiers in the northern Sinai peninsula bordering Gaza.

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In the past, Israel has fought against any role in the Palestinian government for Hamas, which achieved worldwide notoriety in the 1990s by launching suicide bomb attacks in the streets of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and is considered a terrorist group by Israel, the USA and the E.U. Steps taken include temporarily halting the monthly transfer of some $100 million in tax revenue Israel collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority. It would be the first visit by the Palestinian Premiere since 2014.

An Egyptian security delegation led by the Egyptian ambassador to Israel, Hazem Khairat, will be monitoring the reconciliation process.

On Tuesday, the Palestinian unity cabinet will meet in Gaza.

In this respect, Eisen believes that there is "no chance whatsoever [that Hamas will agree to disarm]".

It ousted Fatah from Gaza the following year after wrangling over the formation of a new government degenerated into bloody clashes.

Along with the European Union and Israel, the United States views Hamas, which has fought three wars with Israel since 2008, as a terrorist group.

Likewise, the greater global community will be hard-pressed to engage with Hamas, as any distinction between its "political" and "military" wings would effectively be nullified, a technicality which Hizbullah uses to operate to some degree on European soil. But we are determined to tackle every issue and solve it in the best interest of our national cause.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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