Palestinian PM arrives in Gaza, first visit since 2015

MOHAMMED ABED

In recent months, strained relations between Egypt and Hamas have somewhat improved, and Egypt has agreed to renovate the passenger terminal at Rafah in return for Hamas' agreement to boost security along the border between Gaza and Egypt.

In a move toward reconciliation, the Palestinian Authority, led by Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, held its meeting in the besieged Gaza Strip for the first time in three years.

As part of efforts to end political division in Palestine, Idris, who took over duties and powers of Minister of Ministers in administration of Hamas, Hasan es-page in Gaza, "we will work to succeed in efforts of national reconciliation".

"The US welcomes efforts to create the conditions for the Palestinian Authority to fully assume its responsibilities in Gaza", White House special envoy Jason Greenblatt said. "The government does not have a magic wand", he told reporters. Its intelligence chief, Khaled Fawzi, visited the strip in the afternoon and met with Hamdallah and Hamas head Ismail Haniya.

Hamdallah praised Egypt's role in healing the Palestinian rift.

"The whole world is waiting for your efforts to achieve reconciliation among the Palestinian people and appreciates your determination to address all obstacles", Sisi said in a pre-recorded speech addressing the two main Palestinian movements on Tuesday.

The sides are to begin negotiations next week in Cairo.

Qatar had backed Hamas, so the blockade further isolated Hamas.

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Hamas has rejected the Palestinian Authority's demand for disarmament and has vowed to hold onto its weapons to fight Israel.

One major issue which the PA and Hamas will have to negotiate is what the latter calls "armed resistance" - what Israel and many others would call terrorism. This isn't a Palestinian reconciliation, but rather Mahmoud Abbas cozying up to a murderous terror organization", adding that "Transferring funds to a Hamas government is like Israel transferring money to ISIS in return for the cash.

Despite multiple attempts over the years aimed at reconciling the groups, the Palestinian leadership has repeatedly failed to follow through on promises of reconciliation and holding of long-overdue elections, as both movements have frequently blamed each other for numerous political failures.

Mr Abbas's comments, in the face of Hamas insistence that it will continue to bear arms and that this is non-negotiable, dampen hopes that the reconciliation will bear fruit.

Hamas has ruled Gaza, while Abbas' party has controlled autonomous enclaves in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

It must be kept in mind that Hamas's armed wing is huge in terms of military personnel as well as warfare technology and artillery weapons.

The Hamas leader said that today Hamas is "in its best situation military, politically and security-wise".

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