Egyptian officials in Gaza ahead of Palestinian unity talks

Egyptian officials in Gaza ahead of Palestinian unity talks

Hamas leaders rejected demands to surrender the group's weapons after it handed over most governing control in the Gaza Strip to the Palestinian Authority, raising the prospect that unity efforts may fail again.

Despite the caution, fed by the failure of previous attempts at reconciliation, this visit is to prepare the ground for a gradual transfer of responsibilities -at least calendar - from Hamas to the palestinian Authority, which issued the government of Prime minister Rami Hamdallah.

Described the visit as "historic", Haniyeh said: "The Egyptian position reflects the will of the Egyptian people and the strong determination to close the page of division and achieve national reconciliation".

Hamdallah's Cabinet will hold a meeting in Gaza, and his ministers are expected to assume authority over government offices this week.

Hamas ousted the PA from Gaza after bloody street fighting in 2007, but finally agreed last month to its return, under pressure from the territory's powerful neighbour Egypt. Yahya al-Sinwar, head of Hamas' political bureau, meeting with young Palestinian in the Commodore Hotel in Gaza City (YouTube, September 29, 2017).

President Mahmoud Abbas said on Monday that he will not accept to see the Hezbollah example applied in the Palestinian areas.

I am encouraged by the continuing engagement of Egypt with all sides to ensure the implementation of the Cairo understandings.

Several factors appear to be working in favor of reconciliation. But they also paved the way for a bitter showdown over global demands that Hamas surrender its weapons and recognize Israel's right to exist as part of a peace agreement. Unemployment is estimated at well over 40 percent, Gaza's 2 million residents are virtually barred from traveling overseas, and residents receive electricity for just a few hours a day.

Benjamin Netanyahu says the attempt at reconciliation between the Islamic militant Hamas and the Western-backed Fatah must involve recognizing Israel, disbanding Hamas' military wing and cutting ties with Hamas' patron Iran.

And perhaps most critically, Hamas has improved relations with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who is poised to play a critical role as mediator.

Hamas hopes to convince Egypt to ease its border restrictions, which, along with the isolation of key regional ally Qatar, have left the Islamists weak.

"Now it is time to work because the only beneficiary of divisions is the occupation forces", the Palestinian prime minister said, addressing the welcoming crowds.

A senior White House official told Walla: "As we have emphasized in recent weeks, we want the Palestinian Authority to take control of Gaza, especially if it can help alleviate the humanitarian situation there".

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