Palestinian PM in Gaza for major reconciliation effort

Hamas Chief Ismail Haniyeh welcomes Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah (L) in Gaza City on Monday, October 2, 2017. (REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)
Updated 02 October 2017

Palestinian PM in Gaza for major reconciliation effort

GAZA CITY/AMMAN: Palestinians took a giant step toward national reconciliation on Monday when Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and other officials from the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority in Ramallah arrived in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.
Thousands of Gazans received the delegation warmly, hoping this would finally lead to an end to the 11-year division between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. Hamdallah described the visit as a “historic moment” toward unity of the Palestinian people.
“We came on the orders of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to announce to the world, from the heart of Gaza, that the Palestinian state cannot be without political and geographic unity between the West Bank and Gaza,” Hamadallah said.
“We know that the only way to achieve our goals is through unity, and to protect the Palestinian political system.”
He said the national unity government would now start to assume its administrative responsibility for the Strip.
The visit is Hamdallah’s first to Gaza in two years. He told journalists he was emotionally moved by the situation in Gaza because of the decade-long siege and the internal split.
An Egyptian security delegation led by the Egyptian ambassador to Israel, Hazem Khairat, will be monitoring the reconciliation process. Egypt, represented by President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, was the sponsor of reconciliation talks in Cairo over the past few weeks.
After a Hamas delegation met Egyptian diplomats, the movement decided to dissolve its administrative committee and expressed its willingness to reconcile with its rival, the Fatah political party.
The UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, the Bulgarian politician Nickolay Mladenov, said that the Cairo agreements represented the last chance for Palestinian reconciliation.
“This opportunity must be well used,” he said during a visit to the Gaza Strip on Monday.
Fahmi Shurab, a professor of international relations at Al-Aqsa University in Gaza, told Arab News: “The reconciliation train has left the station and there is no stopping it because there is a consensus of opinion that both sides need each other and neither can negate the other.”
Everyone in Gaza was awaiting the reversal of a number of decisions made recently by the Ramallah leadership that led to a reduction in daily supplies of electricity, Shurab. “What is needed is for the Palestinian Authority to work on increasing the number of hours of electricity, to unite employees, and to resolve the border disputes.”
The electricity issue is a top priority for Nehad Mughni, the head of engineering and planning at the Gaza Municipality. “Electricity is crucial to help us pump water and treat sewage,” he told Arab News. A meeting late on Monday discussed the crucial issues of electricity, border crossings and the merger of public-service employees.
Many reconstruction projects in Gaza had been delayed because of Israel’s refusal to admit some technical items, Mughni said. “We are hoping that with reconciliation moving ahead, Israel will ease some of the restrictions it has placed on the entry of necessary reconstruction materials.” Mughni said that four wells that would alleviate water shortages in Gaza had not been completed because Israel has held up necessary technical and mechanical instruments, even though the German government was funding the projects.
Jad Isaac, the director of the Applied Research Institute Jerusalem, told Arab News that the Fatah-Hamas split had ended because both sides realized they had failed. “Both Fatah and Hamas have reached the conclusion that reconciliation is beneficial to both,” he said.
“The new leadership in Hamas is pragmatic, and realizes that they have to do something after they failed to meet the needs of Gazans. On the other hand, Fatah realized they have to do something before Dahlan strikes a deal with Hamas.” Mohammed Dahlan is the former Fatah leader in Gaza, whose return from the West Bank has long been rumored.
Mustafa Barghouti, head of the Palestinian Initiative Movement, said the ballot box was the key to the success of the reconciliation. “A mandate by the people through elections will be the best way to resolve any problem,” he told the BBC Arabic service.
Hamas has been the de-facto ruler of the Gaza Strip since 2007, after the party defeated President Mahmoud Abbas’s long-dominant Fatah party in parliamentary elections. Street battles between the two factions left many dead, and ended with Hamas ousting Abbas’s forces and taking over Gaza.
Hamas’s control over security and its nature as an armed resistance movement have also been an obstacle for the PA, which cooperates with Israel on security-related matters, as laid out in the Oslo Accords, signed in 1993 and 1995 between the Palestine Liberation Organization and Israel.
However, this is not the first time the two parties have attempted reconciliation; two previous agreements collapsed amid conflicts between the two parties.
However, many people are more optimistic this time because of the concrete steps the two parties are taking to finally achieve it.


The Middle East implements measures to combat deadly coronavirus

Updated 6 min 10 sec ago

The Middle East implements measures to combat deadly coronavirus

  • Bahrain’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it has started an evacuation plan for Bahraini nationals in Iran

DUBAI: Coronavirus has been widely spreading in the Middle East during the past week with Iran recording the highest number of infections and deaths in the region.

Countries in the Middle East are currently taking extraordinary steps to prevent the growing coronavirus outbreak.

00:51 – Bahrain’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it has started an evacuation plan for Bahraini nationals in Iran including screening and quarantine procedures. The Ministry called on all Bahrainis to register their details by calling: +97317227555

(Developing)