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