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Palestinian Prime Minister Heads To Gaza As Reconciliation Push

03 October 2017
Palestinian Prime Minister Heads To Gaza As Reconciliation Push

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah entered the Gaza Strip on Monday after a two-year absence, as part of efforts at reconciliation between Hamas and al-Fatah. "They want a united security services without having double security services". "But of course, long term political issues also need to be addressed".

Hamdallah also added that Hamas' willingness to compromise is important "and we will build more on it". The optics of the arrangement could also become an issue that inhibits the PA's governance, should the populace come to understand that, in reality, it is Hamas pulling the strings from behind the scenes.

For Hamas, unencumbered by the humanitarian situation in Gaza, the opportunity to morph into a fiercer fighting force, modelled on the Lebanese terror group Hizbullah, becomes an enticingly realistic goal.

The deal has drawn skepticism from veteran Palestinian officials, who argue that Hamas has no intention of adopting Abbas's commitment to making peace with Israel and only accepted the agreement to escape the burden of governing Gaza. "We await the first steps on the ground".

"We are determined to ... bury the chapter of division so that the homeland can be reunited", Hamdallah said in public remarks in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

Thus far, however, the government of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has remained tight-lipped about the prospective reconciliation, in stark contrast from the past when Israeli officialdom near-uniformly condemned Abbas for any attempts to forge unity with Hamas.

That deployment would still leave Hamas's armed wing - analysts say it has at least 25,000 well-equipped fighters - the dominant power in the Palestinian enclave of 2 million people.

One of the main concerns will be the issue of security and border control, as well as the role of Hamas' military wing, the Qassam Brigades.

The initiative is backed by Egypt which will be closely following the talks, meant to prepare for a transfer of power in the Gaza Strip from Hamas to Abbas's Palestinian Authority (PA).

Speaking to reporters, one of the freed inmates, Taher Abu Armana, thanked Hamas Gaza chief Yehya Al-Sinwar and Mohammed Dahlan, a former Fatah security chief in the enclave, for his release.

It ousted Fatah from Gaza the following year after wrangling over the formation of a new government degenerated into bloody clashes. At least, to appear successful before the Palestinian people.

"I call on everyone without exception to embrace the leadership, reconciliation, national unity and to put our national interest above all narrow party considerations and interests", Hamdallah said on a small and overcrowded stage, squeezed between Palestinian officials and security detail. This is Gaza's only pathway to Egypt and a much needed opening to the outside world.

But in recent months, Egypt has been brokering talks aimed at bringing the two sides together. But it is still unclear whether Egypt will allow the border crossing to opened more frequently. "We are coming to Gaza again to deepen the reconciliation and end the split". At the same time, the movement said it would welcome the PA back in the Strip.