Wednesday, 13 December, 2017

In phone call, United Nations chief offers congratulations and support to Palestinian President

Haniyeh Hamdallah Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah shakes hands with Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza City
Howard Terry | 13 October, 2017, 00:24

Rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah on Thursday signed a landmark reconciliation agreement in Egyptian capital Cairo.

Al-Ahmad, who is also the head of Fatah delegation for the Cairo talks, said what was agreed upon two weeks ago under the auspices of Egypt is empowering the legitimate government to operate in accordance with its powers in accordance with the Basic Law in effect in the West Bank.

Israel opposes reconciliation agreements between rivals Hamas and Fatah if Hamas doesn't do away with its armed wing, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement Thursday. Hamas leaders have said they would not disarm as long as Israel occupies Palestinian land.

Cairo is now leading efforts to heal a decade-long political split between Gaza-based Hamas and the West Bank-based Fatah movement of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

A split between Palestine's two major forces, Fatah and Hamas, occurred after the parliamentary elections in Palestine in 2006 when Hamas won.

An Egyptian source close to the talks said intelligence chief Khaled Fawzi had followed the negotiations closely.

Egypt has been keen to improve security in the Sinai Peninsula which borders Gaza and where jihadist rebels have fought a long-running insurgency.

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

"We are meeting in Cairo in hopes of formulating a roadmap titled National Reconciliation", wrote Hamas member Izzat Reshiq on his Twitter account earlier this week.

Attempts at reconciliation in recent years fell apart.

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.

The new deal is understood to cover border crossing arrangements, Hamas' arsenal and the livelihoods of thousands of public servants.

With Hamas in control, conditions in Gaza deteriorated.

The latest reconciliation efforts come as US President Donald Trump has sought to revive peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians and met separately with Abbas and Netanyahu on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in NY last month.

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