Qatar says it will build new Palestinian government HQ in Gaza
Mahmud Hams (AFP/Archives)
Qatar announced Tuesday it will fund a new headquarters for the Palestinian Authority in Gaza as it seeks to support a recently agreed reconciliation deal between rival Palestinian factions following a request from PA President Mahmoud Abbas.
"Qatar has agreed to build the headquarters of the presidency and the headquarters of the Palestinian government in Gaza after the consensus government assumes its duties fully," Qatar's envoy to Gaza Mohammed Al-Amadi announced.
The Palestinian Authority government is to retake control of the Gaza Strip from Hamas by December 1 under a reconciliation deal signed in Cairo this month between Fatah, who currently run the Palestinian Authority, and Hamas, who rule Gaza.
Amadi said Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas had asked the Gulf state a week ago for the funding and Qatar agreed as it wants to support reconciliation efforts.
The headquarters of the Palestinian Authority presidency and government in the Gaza Strip were targeted several times by Israeli bombing in 2008-2009 and 2012 wars, leaving them destroyed.
Qatar has long been a supporter of Hamas and has paid for much of the reconstruction of the strip after the last war with Israel in 2014.
However earlier this year a group of Gulf states, led by Saudi Arabia, imposed a diplomatic and economic blockade on the country, citing support for Hamas as one of the reasons for doing so.
A group of senior Hamas officials who were residing in Doha were asked to leave. Qatar reportedly expressed regret over expelling Hamas officials and said its hand was forced by "external pressure."
Islamist group Hamas has ruled Gaza for a decade after seizing it from Abbas's forces. Abbas's Fatah is based in the occupied West Bank.
Following the reconciliation deal, Palestinian officials have also begun talks over forming a new government including Hamas-backed ministers, a Palestinian official in the West Bank said.
He said the goal was to form a "national unity government" to include the "various factions," the official said on condition of anonymity.
"It is important that Hamas be part of this government," he added.
Israel has said it will reject any government of which Hamas is a part unless it meets a list of demands, including recognizing the country and disarming.
The United States has also said the movement must disarm and recognize Israel.
Both consider Hamas, which has fought three wars with Israel since 2008, a terrorist organisation.
The Abbas-led Palestine Liberation Organisation has recognized Israel, but Hamas has not.
Multiple previous reconciliation attempts between Hamas and Fatah have failed.
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