Unity deal offers hope for residents of Gaza Strip
CAIRO >> After a decade of hostility and recrimination, the two main Palestinian factions came together in Cairo on Thursday to sign a reconciliation deal that holds out the tantalizing prospect of a united Palestinian front. Hopes for the agreement, signed under the watchful eye of Egyptian intelligence, were tempered by the knowledge that many previous Palestinian initiatives have failed. Yet there is optimism that this time may be different, partly because the stakes are so much higher. For the 2 million Palestinians of Gaza, trapped in a tiny coastal strip that is frequently compared to an open-air prison, the Cairo deal offered a potential respite from their lives of dire shortages of electricity and lifesaving medicine.
For the Palestinian leadership, it held out the prospect of negotiating with Israel with a single voice, even as it forced the divided territory’s most radical militants to make painful concessions. Hamas, which controls Gaza and has fought Israel three times, said it was ready to cede control of Gaza’s borders and allow the rival Palestinian Authority to effectively take over the day-to-day running of the territory.
It was a sobering reality check for a group that, despite years of fiery defiance and arms supplies from Iran, cannot rule Gaza without help from Fatah, the rival faction that controls the Palestinian Authority and was driven out of Gaza in violent clashes 10 years ago.