Palestinian unity government convenes in Gaza for first time

Palestinian unity government convenes in Gaza for first time

Kerry Wise
October 5, 2017

Hamas seized the Gaza Strip in 2007 in fighting with Fatah forces loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas and has ruled the impoverished desert enclave of two million people since then. The reconciliation process, mediated and monitored by Egypt, had led to the Hamas disbanding its civilian administrative committee in Gaza and handing it over to the PA.

Since 2006 after the massive victory of Hamas in Gaza elections, Hamas and Fatah have been at odds.

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", said Hamdallah, in his opening remarks on Tuesday.

It was the first meeting of the cabinet in Gaza since November 2014, although Hamdallah visited a year later without his ministers. "Transferring monies to a Hamas government is akin to transferring funds from Israel to IS - rockets will be fired at us in return", Bennett said in a statement.

After Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates imposed economic sanctions against Qatar, Hamas' main financial supporter, over allegations of supporting regional terrorist groups, Hamas chose to dissolve its shadow government in Gaza last month. Gaza is administered by Hamas.

But key sticking points, primarily Hamas' refusal to disarm its powerful military wing, are likely to complicate or even derail the reconciliation efforts in the coming weeks.

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The video was played as Egyptian intelligence head Khaled Fawzy met with Hamas and Palestinian Authority leaders in the Gaza Strip.

According to Haniyeh, the Hamas movement is prepared to hold a dialogue with the Fatah movement "in order to unite the decision of war and peace", in reference to the issue of Hamas participation in PLO institutions.

"We do not accept any interference from any country in our internal Palestinian affairs, except for Egypt, because its interference is accepted by all parties involved, whether us [Fatah] or Hamas", he said in an interview on Egyptian TV in Ramallah.

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

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has said Palestinian reconciliation could be an "opportunity" for wider regional peace, and called for global support for the initiative.

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. Despite accepting major concessions for the reconciliation, Hamas still remains the dominant power in the Gaza strip. Hamas calls for Israel's destruction and has fought three wars with the Jewish state. Bennett is expected to bring up these demands in the upcoming cabinet meeting.