PA Gaza takeover set for Dec. 1

Jerusalem Post - - FRONT PAGE - • By ADAM RASGON and MICHAEL WILNER in Washington

Ha­mas and Fatah de­clared De­cem­ber 1 as the dead­line for the Pales­tinian Author­ity to take over the Gaza Strip.

Ha­mas has con­trolled Gaza since 2007, when it forcibly ousted the Fatah-dom­i­nated PA from the ter­ri­tory. How­ever, less than a month ago, Ha­mas an­nounced its readi­ness to cede con­trol to the PA.

The ri­val par­ties’ agree­ment on Thurs­day came after se­nior Ha­mas and Fatah del­e­ga­tions met in Cairo for two days.

“The two move­ments agreed to mea­sures to en­able the [PA] na­tional unity govern­ment to un­der­take its

full re­spon­si­bil­i­ties in ad­min­is­trat­ing the af­fairs of the Gaza Strip as it does in the West Bank,” an of­fi­cial Egyp­tian state­ment pub­lished in PA me­dia said.

Fatah leader Az­zam al-Ah­mad, who led the Fatah del­e­ga­tion to the Egyp­tian cap­i­tal, told a press con­fer­ence in Cairo that “en­abling the govern­ment” en­tails the PA tak­ing over all the govern­ment in­sti­tu­tions and bod­ies in Gaza with­out ex­cep­tion.

Ah­mad added that his party and Ha­mas con­sented to the PA tak­ing over Gaza’s bor­der cross­ings with Egypt and Is­rael and de­ploy­ing its se­cu­rity forces along the Egyp­tianGaza bor­der.

If the PA takes over the cross­ings, Is­rael and Egypt will likely lift sev­eral re­stric­tions on the move­ment of peo­ple and goods.

In pre­vi­ous at­tempts to re­store the PA’s pres­ence in Gaza, Ha­mas and Fatah agreed to place elite, Amer­i­can-trained PA Pres­i­den­tial Guard forces at the Rafah cross­ing.

It is un­clear if Ha­mas and Fatah were able to come to spe­cific agree­ments on is­sues other than the bor­der cross­ings, such as the fu­ture of Ha­mas’s armed wing.

PA Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ab­bas has said that he would not ac­cept a sce­nario in which Ha­mas’s armed wing main­tains con­trol of its weapons. Mean­while, Ha­mas lead­ers have said that their armed wing’s weapons are not up for dis­cus­sion.

Ha­mas, Fatah and other Pales­tinian fac­tions are ex­pected to meet in Cairo on Novem­ber 21. PLO Ex­ec­u­tive Com­mit­tee mem­ber Mustafa Bargh­outi said the meet­ing in late Novem­ber will seek to re­solve the out­stand­ing is­sue re­lated to en­abling the PA govern­ment to op­er­ate in Gaza, as well as es­tab­lish a Pales­tinian unity govern­ment, set a date for gen­eral elec­tions and ad­dress other is­sues.

Pales­tinian lead­ers from across the po­lit­i­cal spec­trum praised the agree­ment on Thurs­day.

Ab­bas said it “strength­ens and has­tens the process of end­ing the di­vi­sion and restor­ing unity of the Pales­tinian peo­ple, land and in­sti­tu­tions.”

Ha­mas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the agree­ment “ends a harsh era and re­stores the unity of our peo­ple.”

In Gaza, where Pales­tini­ans hope the agree­ment will lead to an eas­ing of the block­ades on the Strip, dozens cel­e­brated in Gaza City, wav­ing Egyp­tian and Pales­tinian flags.

“There’s so much hap­pi­ness here,” a Gaza City res­i­dent said. “We hope that we will re­ceive suf­fi­cient elec­tric­ity and clean wa­ter and that we will be able to travel abroad.”

The head of the PLO gen­eral del­e­ga­tion to the US, Husam Zom­lot, thanked Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and his team for en­cour­ag­ing the PA’S re­turn to the Gaza Strip.

Zom­lot added that the agree­ment is a his­toric and cru­cial step in the di­rec­tion of achiev­ing peace in the Mid­dle East, stress­ing that the aim of the agree­ment is the re­turn of the “le­git­i­mate” cen­tral author­ity to Gaza with full civil and se­cu­rity au­thor­i­ties, un­der one govern­ment and one rule of law, iden­ti­cal to the Pales­tinian govern­ment’s re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and au­thor­i­ties in the West Bank.

The en­voy ex­pressed grat­i­tude for Egypt’s lead­er­ship in fa­cil­i­tat­ing the step. He re­con­firmed the Pales­tinian pres­i­dent’s com­mit­ment and part­ner­ship with Trump to­ward achiev­ing a just, last­ing and com­pre­hen­sive peace in the re­gion. •

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