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Abbas hails 'final agreement' to end decade-long Palestinian split

From left to right in front row, Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip Yahya Sinwar, Head of Palestinian General Intelligence Majid Faraj, Head of the Hamas political bureau Ismail Haniyeh, Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and an Egyptian mediator hold
(AP Photo/Prime Minister Office)
Palestinian Authority to take control of border crossing with Egypt, re-deploy 3,000 police to Gaza

Rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah signed a milestone agreement in Cairo on Thursday aimed at ending a decade-long split following talks overseen by Egypt.

It was signed by new Hamas deputy leader Salah al-Aruri and Azzam al-Ahmad, the head of the Fatah delegation for the talks, according to Fatah and Hamas sources in the negotiations.

Palestinian Authority President and Fatah head Mahmoud Abbas hailed the agreement as a "final agreement to end the division" -- though many key issues remain to be resolved and previous reconciliation attempts have repeatedly failed.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniya's had earlier announced, without providing details, that "an agreement was reached today between Hamas and Fatah under Egyptian sponsorship."

An official from Abbas's Fatah movement said the Palestinian president was now planning to travel to the Gaza Strip within a month as part of the unity bid.

It will be Abbas' first visit to the coastal enclave since 2007, when his Fatah party was brutally ousted from the territory by Hamas in a near civil war following a dispute over parliamentary elections.

AP Photo/Jason DeCrow

Sanctions taken by Abbas against Hamas-controlled Gaza will also soon be lifted, the Fatah official said.

The talks in Cairo were apparently focused on enabling the Palestinian Authority to resume its operations in Gaza, leaving hot-button issues including the fate of Hamas' military wing still unresolved.

A party to the negotiations, who asked not to be identified, said the agreement would see forces of the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority, which is dominated by Fatah, take control of the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt.

He added that all Palestinian factions would begin wider negotiations on the formation of a national unity government in the coming two weeks.

Some 3,000 police officers from the Palestinian Authority are to redeploy to Gaza as part of the deal, another official involved in the talks told AFP on condition of anonymity.

"According to the agreement, the Palestinian government will be able to take over all its roles in the civil and security sectors, for which 3,000 Palestinian policemen from the .... Palestinian Authority will be redeployed," the official said.

The figure is a fraction of the number of police officers employed by Hamas, the Islamist movement that runs the Gaza Strip.

AFP

The two sides had been meeting in the Egyptian capital this week with the aim of ending the crippling decade-old split between the rival factions which has complicated any potential peace negotiations with Israel and has exacerbated humanitarian woes in Gaza.

The recent Egyptian-headed push received a major boost last month when Hamas agreed to cede civilian power in Gaza.

Palestinian Authority prime minister Rami Hamdallah visited Gaza last week for the first time since 2015 and his ministers officially took control of government departments there.

Fate of Hamas armed wing?

Neither Abbas nor Haniya attended the talks which were hosted by the Mukhbarat Egyptian secret police and held behind closed doors.

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

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

But key issues must still be resolved, most notably the fate of Hamas' 25,000-strong military wing, the Iz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades.

Mahmud Hams (AFP/File)

Abbas has warned he would not accept Hamas keeping its weapons, rejecting a "Hezbollah-model" arrangement in the Gaza Strip. Hamas officials, however, have vowed its military wing would not disarm.

Reconciliation could also pose a dilemma for international efforts to reach an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal since Hamas has not recognized Israel, unlike the Abbas-led Palestine Liberation Organization.

Islamist movement Hamas is blacklisted as a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union.

It has fought three wars with Israel since 2008 and the blockaded Gaza Strip has seen deteriorating humanitarian conditions.

Previous attempts at reconciliation have repeatedly failed, and many analysts are treating the latest bid with caution, waiting to see if actual change will occur on the ground.

See also:

Fatah and Hamas: a decade of strained relations

(Staff with AFP)

Comments

(1)

Great news! finally all are in the same basket ! easier to suite and control. The stupidity is that Hamas has access to Interpol now. ahahah

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