Ha­mas agrees to Pales­tinian unity move

Bangkok Post - - WORLD -

GAZA CITY: Ha­mas said yes­ter­day it had agreed to take steps towards re­solv­ing a decade-long split with Pales­tinian pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ab­bas’s Fatah move­ment, an­nounc­ing it would dis­solve a body seen as a ri­val gov­ern­ment and was ready to hold elec­tions.

The state­ment comes af­ter Ha­mas lead­ers held talks with Egyp­tian of­fi­cials last week, and with the Gaza Strip run by the Pales­tinian Is­lamist move­ment fac­ing a mount­ing hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis.

Ha­mas said it had agreed to key de­mands made by Fatah: Dis­solv­ing the so-called “ad­min­is­tra­tive com­mit­tee”, while say­ing it was ready for elec­tions and ne­go­ti­a­tions to­ward a unity gov­ern­ment.

Ha­mas chief Is­mail Haniya agreed to take such steps in talks with Egyp­tian of­fi­cials last week, a Ha­mas of­fi­cial said.

It was un­clear, how­ever, whether the steps would re­sult in fur­ther con­crete ac­tion to­ward end­ing the deep divi­sion with Fatah, based in the Is­raeli-oc­cu­pied West Bank.

There was no im­me­di­ate re­sponse from Mr Ab­bas, and pre­vi­ous at­tempts to re­solve the split be­tween Ha­mas and Fatah have re­peat­edly failed.

In yes­ter­day’s state­ment, Ha­mas spoke of the “dis­so­lu­tion” of the ad­min­is­tra­tive com­mit­tee, which was seen as a ri­val gov­ern­ment to Mr Ab­bas’s ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Ha­mas formed the com­mit­tee in March, and since then Mr Ab­bas has sought to put fur­ther pres­sure on the Is­lamist move­ment, for ex­am­ple by re­duc­ing elec­tric­ity pay­ments for the Gaza Strip, among other mea­sures.

When de­tails be­gan to emerge of the dis­cus­sions in Cairo last week, UN Mid­dle East en­voy Nick­o­lay Mlade­nov said: “I wel­come the re­cent de­vel­op­ments re­lated to Pales­tinian unity in Cairo.”

“Reconciliation is crit­i­cal to ad­dress­ing the grave hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis in Gaza, pre­vent­ing the con­tin­u­ing mil­i­tant buildup and restor­ing hope for the fu­ture,” he said in a state­ment.

“I urge all par­ties to seize the cur­rent pos­i­tive mo­men­tum and reach an agree­ment that would al­low the Pales­tinian gov­ern­ment to im­me­di­ately take up its re­spon­si­bil­i­ties in Gaza.”

Ha­mas has run Gaza since 2007, hav­ing seized it in a near civil war from Fatah fol­low­ing a dis­pute over par­lia­men­tary elec­tions won by the Is­lamist move­ment.

The Gaza Strip has faced de­te­ri­o­rat­ing hu­man­i­tar­ian con­di­tions, in­clud­ing a se­vere elec­tric­ity cri­sis and a lack of clean wa­ter.

It has been un­der an Is­raeli block­ade for around a decade, while its bor­der with Egypt has also re­mained largely closed in re­cent years.

The coastal en­clave of 2 mil­lion peo­ple has one of the world’s high­est job­less rates.

Ha­mas has turned to Egypt for help, no­tably for fuel to pro­duce power — and has faced pres­sure to take steps to­ward Pales­tinian reconciliation in re­turn.

Is­rael and Pales­tinian mil­i­tants in Gaza have fought three wars since 2008.

AFP

Masked youth cadets march in the south­ern Gaza Strip city of Khan Yu­nis on Fri­day.

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