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'Obstacles' hamper Palestinian reconciliation as Gaza handover deadline arrives

Azzam al-Ahmad, chef de la délégation du Fatah, à l'issue d'une réunion entre partis palestiniens au Caire, le 22 novembre 2017
MOHAMED EL-SHAHED (AFP)
Hamas was originally due to transfer power on December 1, but that deadline was extended by 10 days

A planned handover of power in Gaza from Hamas to the Palestinian Authority under a landmark reconciliation accord hit "obstacles" on Sunday's deadline to do so, a top official said.

Islamist movement Hamas was originally due to transfer power in the enclave on December 1 under the reconciliation agreement with rival faction Fatah, but that deadline was initially put back by 10 days.

Hamas said at the weekend that it was handing over all government ministries to the Palestinian Authority, but Fatah's top negotiator said that was not yet the case.

"There have been obstacles today," Azzam al-Ahmad said in a statement on Sunday published on official news agency WAFA.

"I hope they will be resolved before this evening so our people will feel that their national factions are honest with what they agreed on and pledged."

Ahmad said that after the handover takes place, a meeting would be held in Cairo -- Egypt mediated the reconciliation deal -- to discuss next steps.

AFP

Earlier on Sunday Palestinian Authority Preside Mahmoud Abbas landed in Egypt, where he is set to meet Jordan's King Abdullah II and Egyptian president Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.

The reconciliation deal reached in October is aimed at ending the 10-year feud between Hamas and Abbas's Fatah, based in the West Bank.

The handover would end Hamas's long dominance of the blockaded Gaza Strip, and has raised hopes that deteriorating humanitarian conditions in the territory could be addressed.

A range of complex issues remains to be resolved, including security control of Gaza and the fate of two separate civil administrations.

Unrest over US President Donald Trump's declaration of Jerusalem as Israel's capital has further complicated the process.

Clashes and protests have erupted in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza since Trump's declaration on Wednesday.

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Hamas may try a "coup" soon or later.

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