Ha­mas says reached deal with Pales­tinian ri­val Fatah


RI­VAL Pales­tinian fac­tions Ha­mas and Fatah reached a deal over po­lit­i­cal rec­on­cil­i­a­tion on Thurs­day after Ha­mas agreed to hand over ad­min­is­tra­tive con­trol of the Gaza en­clave the group has con­trolled for more than a decade.

Ha­mas chief Is­mail Haniyeh an­nounced the Egyp­tian-bro­kered ac­cord in a state­ment with­out pro­vid­ing fur­ther de­tails about a deal ex­pected to cover ad­min­is­tra­tive, se­cu­rity and bor­der cross­ing ar­range­ments in the Gaza Strip.

The West­ern-backed main­stream Fatah party lost con­trol of Gaza to Ha­mas, which is des­ig­nated as a ter­ror­ist group by the West and Is­rael, in a brief civil war in 2007. But last month Ha­mas agreed to cede pow­ers in Gaza to Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ab­bas’ Fatah­backed gov­ern­ment.

Egypt has helped me­di­ate sev­eral at­tempts to rec­on­cile the two move­ments and form a pow­er­shar­ing unity gov­ern­ment in Gaza and the West Bank, where Ab­bas and the Fatah-led Pales­tinian Au­thor­ity (PA) are based. Ha­mas and Fatah agreed in 2014 to form a na­tional rec­on­cil­i­a­tion gov­ern­ment, but de­spite that deal, Ha­mas’s shadow gov­ern­ment con­tin­ued to rule Gaza.

“We con­grat­u­late our Pales­tinian peo­ple on the rec­on­cil­i­a­tion agree­ment reached in Cairo. We make every ef­fort pos­si­ble to im­ple­ment it to start a new chap­ter in the his­tory of our peo­ple,” Ha­mas spokesman Hazem Qassem told Reuters.

Ha­mas agreed to hand ad­min­is­tra­tive pow­ers in Gaza to a Fatah-backed gov­ern­ment last month. The move was a ma­jor re­ver­sal for Ha­mas, prompted partly by the group’s fears of po­ten­tial fi­nan­cial and po­lit­i­cal iso­la­tion after its main donor Qatar fell into a ma­jor diplo­matic dispute with key al­lies.

Un­der the Cairo-backed unity deal, 3,000 Fatah se­cu­rity of­fi­cers will also join the Gaza po­lice force. But Ha­mas would re­main the most pow­er­ful armed Pales­tinian fac­tion – an es­ti­mated 25,000 welle­quipped fight­ers have fought three wars with Is­rael since 2008.

An­other ma­jor is­sue of the dis­cus­sion is the fate of 40,000 to 50,000 public em­ploy­ees Ha­mas has hired in Gaza since 2007, a thorny point that crashed a pre­vi­ous unity deal signed in 2014.

Ha­mas and Fatah were also dis­cussing a po­ten­tial date for pres­i­den­tial and leg­isla­tive elec­tions and re­forms of the Pales­tine Lib­er­a­tion Or­ga­ni­za­tion (PLO).

Ha­mas agreed to hand ad­min­is­tra­tive pow­ers in Gaza to a Fatah­backed gov­ern­ment last month

Pales­tinian Prime Min­is­ter Rami Ham­dal­lah chairs a rec­on­cil­i­a­tion gov­ern­ment cab­i­net meet­ing in Gaza

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