Pales­tinian ri­vals Fatah, Ha­mas reach rec­on­cil­i­a­tion deal

Daily Messenger - - International -

CAIRO/GAZA: 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’ Fatah-backed govern­ment.

A Ha­mas of­fi­cial told Reuters that de­tails were ex­pected to be re­leased at a noon news con­fer­ence (1000 GMT) in Cairo, where unity talks between the ri­val fac­tions be­gan on Tues­day.

“The pres­i­dent wel­comes the agree­ment reached in Cairo between the del­e­ga­tions of Fatah and Ha­mas and in­structed Fatah’s del­e­ga­tion to im­me­di­ately sign the agree­ment,” an of­fi­cial at the of­fice of Ab­bas told Reuters.

Egypt has helped me­di­ate sev­eral at­tempts to rec­on­cile the two move­ments and form a power-shar­ing 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 con- tin­ued 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.

Del­e­ga­tions from the two ri­vals have been in talks in Cairo this week to work out the de­tails of the ad­min­is­tra­tive han­dover, in­clud­ing se­cu­rity in Gaza and at border cross­ings.

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