HAMAS ANNOUNCES RECONCILIATION DEAL WITH PALESTINIAN RIVAL FATAH

 

CAIRO – Palestinian rival factions Hamas and Fatah have reached a deal over political reconciliation, Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh said in a statement on Thursday without providing further details.

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

“Fatah and Hamas reached an agreement at dawn today upon a generous Egyptian sponsorship,” Haniyeh said in a statement.

Fatah spokesman Osama Qawasmeh said Tuesday that the talks, which are being held under the auspices of the Egyptian Intelligence Directorate, would focus on enabling the PA to operate in Gaza.

“We want to extend the rule of law to Gaza as [has been done] in the West Bank,” Qawasmeh said in a statement.

Some three weeks ago, Hamas announced its readiness to hand responsibility for Gaza over to the Palestinian Authority.

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Hamas Politburo member Ezzat al-Rishq, who is part of his party’s delegation in the Egyptian capital, wrote on his Twitter account on Tuesday morning that Hamas “is pursuing, with desire and determination, a real national reconciliation with our brothers and partners in the homeland.”

While Hamas and Fatah have said they want to reunite the Palestinian territories, they have to overcome a number of obstacles to do that.

Over the past week, the parties have expressed divergent views about the future of Gaza’s security.

PA President and Fatah Chairman Mahmoud Abbas told Egyptian television last week that he would not accept a scenario in which Hamas’s armed wing, Izzadin Kassam, kept control of its weapons.

Meanwhile, Hamas Politburo chief Ismail Haniyeh told Egyptian television a day later that while his party would not cede control of its weapons, it would be prepared to make joint decisions with Fatah about when and how to use them.

The PA government cabinet said on Tuesday that if Hamas and Fatah achieve an agreement in Cairo, it is prepared to take full responsibility for Gaza, the official PA news site Wafa reported.

Hamas has controlled Gaza since it ousted the PA in 2007 from the territory.

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