PA premier to visit Gaza next week to take control from Hamas

Rami Hamdallah to head government meeting in Strip as part of Fatah’s reconciliation efforts with terror group

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah speaks during a press conference in Gaza City on March 25, 2015 (AFP Photo/Mohammed Abed)
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah speaks during a press conference in Gaza City on March 25, 2015 (AFP Photo/Mohammed Abed)

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah will travel to the Gaza Strip on October 2 as part of renewed reconciliation efforts with the Hamas terror group, which runs the enclave, the PA said Monday.

The visit follows concessions by Hamas after discussions with Egypt, which has urged it to take steps toward reconciliation with PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party, which is based in the West Bank.

Fatah and Hamas have been at loggerheads since Hamas violently took control of the Strip in 2007, with the two groups operating separate administrations.

“Prime minister Rami Hamdallah has decided after consulting with President Mahmoud Abbas that the government will hold its weekly meeting in Gaza next week,” government spokesman Yusuf Al Mahmoud said.

“Hamdallah and members of the government will arrive in Gaza next Monday to start taking over government responsibilities after Hamas announced its agreement to dissolve the administrative committee and enable the government to assume its full responsibilities,” he said in a statement published on the official Palestinian news agency WAFA

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, left, and then Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh, right, raise their linked arms as they move through the crowd at a special session of parliament in Gaza City, March 17, 2007. (AP/Hatem Moussa/File)

Hamas said a week ago that it had agreed to steps toward resolving the split with Abbas’s Fatah, announcing it would dissolve a body seen as a rival government — known as the administrative committee — and was ready to hold elections.

The statement came after Hamas leaders held talks with Egyptian officials and as Gaza faces a mounting humanitarian crisis, stemmed in party by retaliatory moves by Abbas following Hamas’s decision to set up an administrative committee to govern the enclave in March.

It remains unclear whether the steps will result in further concrete action toward ending the deep division with Fatah, as a number of previous reconciliation efforts have failed to bring the two sides together.

Hamas for now continues to run a de facto separate administration in Gaza and is in charge of the security forces there.

While Abbas welcomed Hamas’s dissolution of the administrative committee, he didn’t commit to removing PA sanctions on the Strip.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (L) listens as US President Donald Trump speaks to the press before a meeting at New York’s Palace Hotel during the 72nd UN General Assembly on September 21, 2017. (AFP Photo/Brendan Smialowski)

The latest reconciliation efforts between Fatah and Hamas come as US President Donald Trump has sought to revive peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians and met separately with Abbas and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York last week.

Speaking at a conference of international donors last week, Trump’s Middle East peace envoy Jason Greenblatt slammed Hamas’s rule in the Gaza Strip and called on the PA to retake control of Gaza and urged the international community to help this process come to fruition.

“Relief from the suffering in Gaza can only be found when all interested parties gather together to help the Palestinian people and isolate Hamas,” he said, accusing Hamas of using money meant for Gaza’s civilian population on terror infrastructure.

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