Palestinians end decade-long split Hamas, Fatah sign deal on reconciliation
GAZA CITY: Rival Palestinian factions signed a reconciliation agreement on Thursday in Cairo, ending a decadelong division.
The announcement came after two days of intensive talks between delegations from Hamas and the Palestinian Authority (PA) at the Egyptian intelligence headquarters.
PA representative Azzam Al-Ahmed and Hamas representative Saleh Al-Arouri announced the agreement at a press conference, saying the government will go back to work according to the Palestinian basic law.
Al-Ahmed said PA presidential guards will fully control all of Gaza’s borders from Nov. 1, adding that President Mahmoud Abbas instructed the delegation “not to come back without an agreement.”
Al-Arouri thanked Egypt for its support of the Palestinian people. At a press conference in Gaza, senior Hamas official Salah Bardawil congratulated the Palestinian people on the reconciliation agreement.
The announcement followed Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah’s first visit to Gaza since 2015. It was the first practical step following Egyptian-mediated reconciliation talks in Cairo.
Hamas dissolved its governing body in Gaza last month, 11 years after taking over the territory by force.
Israel has since imposed a strict blockade on Gaza, which is populated by 2 million Palestinians.
The intra-Palestinian split began after Hamas won parliamentary elections in 2006. Bloody clashes between Hamas and Fatah ended with the former taking over Gaza and ousting pro-Abbas forces to the West Bank.
Gaza-based political analyst Mostafa Ibraheem said the timing is right for both parties to reconcile.
“Both of them needed the agreement. Hamas is no longer able to control Gaza, and Abbas wants a united leadership to negotiate with the Israelis,” Ibraheem told Arab News.
Under the deal, Abbas will lift economic sanctions imposed on Hamas-controlled Gaza earlier this year. “I welcome the agreement reached between Fatah and Hamas in Cairo,” he said. Hundreds of Palestinians took to the streets of Gaza in celebration.
An official from Abbas’ Fatah movement said the president was planning to soon travel to the Gaza Strip as part of the unity bid, in what would be his first visit in at least a decade.
Thousands of Palestinians took to the streets of Gaza to celebrate the deal, Agence France Presse (AFP) reported.
In a square in Gaza City, they chanted songs about national unity, while people distributed celebratory sweets.
Large signs bearing the faces of Abbas, Egyptian leader Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh were held aloft by the crowd.
Jihad Seaam, 23, said the announcement had brought new hope. “Young people today are filled with unemployment, poverty and frustration,” he told AFP in Gaza.
“Their hope was renewed today with the reconciliation agreement,” he said. “The most important thing now is the implementation of the agreement and not to let us down.”
In the West Bank, too, people welcomed the agreement, though there were no major celebrations in Ramallah, the base of the Fatahdominated Palestinian Authority.
“We hope that it will be a real agreement and that (officials from the two movements) will eliminate the obstacles that are hindering it,” said Siam Nouwwara, a social worker.
“Gaza residents are tired, like the residents of the West Bank. There was a feeling of two separate peoples. People weren’t saying ‘Palestine’ any more, but rather ‘Gaza and the West Bank.’”
Abbas to visit Gaza in the next few weeks
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Khaled Fawzi, center, head of the Egyptian Intelligence services, shares a laugh with members of Hamas including Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip Yahya Sinwar and senior Hamas official Izzat Al-Rishq in the presence of Fatah’s Azzam Al-Ahmed,
second right, following the signing of a reconciliation deal in Cairo on Thursday. (AFP)