Thursday, October 19, 2017

Palestinian cabinet meets in Gaza for first time in three years in reconciliation push


By Tessa Fox - October 04, 2017
TAGS:
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [Hamas] [Fatah]

Egyptian-mediated reconciliation talks between Hamas, de-facto ruling the Gaza Strip, and the Fatah- led Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank commenced on Monday. Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah held the PA’s weekly cabinet meeting in Gaza on Tuesday for the first time in three years. According to reports, the delegation was met in festive spirit by Gazans at the Erez border crossing, filled with hope the talks will lead to ending the Palestinian political rift. According to Haaretz, Prime Minister Hamdallah highlighted the need for unity between Gaza and the West Bank before a Palestinian State is possible.

A transfer of government ministries from Hamas to the PA appears to be desired by both sides, in order to build a joint national government. Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh said in a statement the reconciliation was necessary to halt Israel’s siege on the Gaza Strip. Hamdallah also stated the reconciliation of the Palestinian territories would encourage international donors to help the rebuilding of Gaza.

In the past months the PA pursued policies aimed at decreasing the power of Hamas, though in turn placed more pressure on citizens, furthering the humanitarian disaster within the Strip, where two million people live.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas has brought three conditions for agreement to the table, including the need for Hamas to dismantle its military wing; foreign powers must not be involved in Gaza’s administration and all development money must be channeled through the Palestinian government, as reported in Al- Hayat.

In response, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called the reconciliation process an "imaginary appeasement where the Palestinian side is reconciling at the expense of our existence," as stated in a report by Haaretz. The Israeli Government has demanded the State of Israel must be recognised, the military wing of Hamas be disbanded and ties with Iran cut before Palestinian unity be realised.

Egypt has been praised for instigating the gathering and also providing a security delegation to monitor the discussions. The reconciliation talks may also have a positive effect on the loosening of the Egyptian border with Gaza at Rafah.

The Egyptian Government has kept the Rafah crossing mostly shut since July 2013. Since the beginning of 2017, Rafah has only opened 16 days throughout the year. This has severely impacted Gaza residents exiting for medical reasons and work opportunities, considering more than forty per cent of Gazans are unemployed.

Representatives of both Hamas and Fatah will travel to Cairo next week to continue meetings, particularly on security arrangements and border control in Gaza.

 

 

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