Hamas, Fatah reach agreement in Palestinian reconciliation talks

13 October, 2017, 00:20 | Author: Brenda Erickson
  • Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah shakes hands with Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza City on October 2

Rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah signed an agreement Thursday on ending a decade-long split following talks mediated by Egypt in Cairo, with president Mahmud Abbas calling it a "final" accord.

Fatah officials said the two sides agreed that the Palestinian Authority would take over responsibility for Gaza's border crossings no later than November 1 and that full governing responsibilities would be handed over to the Palestinian Authority by the beginning of December.

He also said that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas - who heads both the PA and the Ramallah government - had instructed members of the Fatah delegation to "end the state of Palestinian division once and for all".

He added that sanctions taken by Abbas against Gaza will also soon be lifted.

Fatah negotiator Azzam al-Ahmed and Hamas' representative Saleh al-Arouri smiled and shook hands in a short ceremony presided over by Egypt's chief of intelligence, Khalid Fawzi.

Last month, Hamas agreed to cede civil power in Gaza to the Palestinian Authority but the fate of its vast military wing remains a significant issue for the two sides.

The West Bank and the Gaza Strip have remained politically and administratively divided since 2007, when Hamas wrested control of the strip from Fatah following several days of street fighting. Hamas and Israel fought three devastating wars over the past decade.

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"It is hard to imagine Hamas giving up its weapons for the sake of reconciliation", Tariq Dana, policy adviser at Al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network, told Al Jazeera earlier this month.

This could be a sticking point for any reconciliation efforts moving forward.

Since then, the relations between the two rival factions have been very tense and all attempts to reconcile them over the past years have failed to bring fruit.

But the move was seen as mainly symbolic, with Hamas still effectively in charge in the Palestinian enclave of two million people bordered by Egypt, Israel and the Mediterranean Sea.

With Hamas in control, conditions in Gaza deteriorated.

"According security measures will be applied and adopted by the Palestinian Authority where the presidential guards will be spread all over the borders", said al-Ahmad.

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