Palestinian PM in Gaza in run-up to political handover

Palestinian PM in Gaza in run-up to political handover

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.

The reconciliation was facilitated three weeks ago when Hamas, the ruling party in the strip since 2007, has dissolved the administrative committee it had established in March to run Gaza affairs and agreed to turn over power to the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority but the movement's armed wing remains the dominant power in the Palestinian enclave of two million people. And looking for a job outside Gaza is nearly impossible, given that the Gaza Strip has been sealed off by Israel and Egypt for over a decade.

Hamas said the decision came in response to recent diplomatic efforts by Egypt to reconcile the rival factions, while Abbas has been calling on Hamas to relinquish control of the small territory to the PA.

Despite the rapprochement between Hamas and Fatah, a number of issues are yet to be resolved. "They are hopeful that this step will alleviate the hard economic situation in Gaza, the border crossings will be open more often, the issue of PA employees will be solved, and that electricity [will] be returned", Modallal told Al Jazeera.

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamadallah, in center with red tie, arrives at Erez border in the northern Gaza Strip on October 2.

"We look forward to turning over the page of division forever, and achieving comprehensive national reconciliation that would strengthen the perseverance of our people and preserve their rights", Iyad al-Buzom, spokesperson for the ministry of interior in Gaza, said in a statement.

The Palestinian schism is seen as a major obstacle to a peace agreement between Israel and a future Palestinian state combining the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

However, the Palestinian Authority wants control of all government roles in Gaza, including security.

"But if the region stays engaged, if Egypt's role continues and if the political parties themselves continue to show the willingness they are now showing to work with us on this process, then it can succeed". "There will be no Palestinian state without Gaza". Hamas is also classified as a terrorist organization by Israel. The PA does not believe in the legitimacy of Hamas' arms.

Abbas also cut wages to civil servants still on the unity government's payroll, a move that deepened economic hardship in an area long under partial blockade by Israel and Egypt, which cite security concerns for border restrictions.

"There has never been any question" of dismantling the armed wing, said Moussa Abu Marzook, a prominent figure in the Islamist movement.

So are the two sides - and the global community - really ready to accept the potentially risky outcome of a poll? This complicates any potential involvement in a Palestinian government, particularly as they provide financial support for the PA. But we are determined to tackle every issue and solve it in the best interest of our national cause.

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