Pales­tinian ri­vals Ha­mas and Fatah sign rec­on­cil­i­a­tion deal

Ha­mas to hand over ad­min­is­tra­tive con­trol of Gaza a decade after seiz­ing it

The Irish Times - - World News -

Ri­val Pales­tinian fac­tions Ha­mas and Fatah signed a rec­on­cil­i­a­tion deal yes­ter­day after Ha­mas agreed to hand over ad­min­is­tra­tive con­trol of Gaza, in­clud­ing the key Rafah bor­der cross­ing, a decade after seiz­ing the en­clave in a civil war.

The deal bro­kered by Egypt bridges a bit­ter gulf be­tween the west­ern-backed main­stream Fatah party of Pales­tinian pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ab­bas and Ha­mas, an Is­lamist move­ment des­ig­nated as a ter­ror­ist group by west­ern coun­tries and Is­rael. Pales­tinian unity could also bol­ster Mr Ab­bas’s hand in any re­vival of talks on a Pales­tinian state in Is­raeli-oc­cu­pied ter­ri­tory.

In­ter­nal Pales­tinian strife has been a ma­jor ob­sta­cle to peace­mak­ing, with Ha­mas hav­ing fought three wars with Is­rael since 2008 and con­tin­u­ing to call for its de­struc­tion.

Ha­mas’s agree­ment to trans­fer ad­min­is­tra­tive pow­ers in Gaza to a Fatah-backed gov­ern­ment marked a ma­jor re­ver­sal, prompted partly by its fears of fi­nan­cial and po­lit­i­cal iso­la­tion after its main pa­tron and donor Qatar plunged in June into a ma­jor diplo­matic dispute with key al­lies like Saudi Ara­bia.

They ac­cuse Qatar of sup­port­ing Is­lamist mil­i­tants, which it de­nies.

Cel­e­bra­tions

Thou­sands of Pales­tini­ans took to the streets across Gaza yes­ter­day in cel­e­bra­tion of the unity pact.

Egypt helped me­di­ate sev­eral pre­vi­ous at­tempts to rec­on­cile the two move­ments and form a power shar­ing unity gov­ern­ment in Gaza and the West Bank, where Mr Ab­bas and the Fatah-led Pales­tinian Au­thor­ity (PA) are based.

Ha­mas and Fatah agreed in 2014 to form a na­tional rec­on­cil­i­a­tion gov­ern­ment but the deal soon dis­si­pated in mu­tual re­crim­i­na­tions, with Ha­mas con­tin­u­ing to dom­i­nate Gaza.

“The le­git­i­mate gov­ern­ment, the gov­ern­ment of con­sen­sus, will re­turn ac­cord­ing to its re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and ac­cord­ing to the law,” Fatah del­e­ga­tion chief Az­zam Al-Ahmed said at the sign­ing cer­e­mony in Cairo. He said the unity gov­ern­ment would “run all in­sti­tu­tions with­out ex­cep­tion”, in­clud­ing all bor­der cross­ings with Is­rael and in Rafah, Gaza’s only ac­cess point with Egypt.

The agree­ment calls for Mr Ab­bas’s pres­i­den­tial guard to as­sume re­spon­si­bil­ity of the Rafah cross­ing on Novem­ber 1st, and for the full han­dover of ad­min­is­tra­tive con­trol of Gaza to the unity gov­ern­ment to be com­pleted by De­cem­ber 1st.

– Reuters

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