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Palestinian unity

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Hamas and Fatah reached an agreement to end the 10 years national division during the second session of the reconciliation meeting held in Cairo today. Hamas Chief, Ismail Haniyeh, said that “an agreement was reached today between Hamas and Fatah under Egyptian sponsorship.” – reported Palestine News Network.

Fatah spokesperson, Osama al-Qawasmi, confirmed that the two parties had reached a comprehensive agreement under Egyptian sponsorship.

The agreement would see forces of the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority, which is dominated by Fatah, take control of the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt and all Palestinian factions would begin wider negotiations on the formation of a unity government in the coming two weeks.

It was agreed to form a unity government, the restructuring of the police and intelligence services, and the deployment of 3,000 policemen in the sector.

It was also agreed to take in some 5,000 Hamas employees who were immediately appointed.

The government would have completed the receipt of all the files and carried out its tasks before next December, as there will be Egyptian supervision on the steps to implement the agreement as a partner in the reconciliation.

According to the available information, the Government will be obligated to pay Gaza employees until the completion of reforming the structure of the Palestinian police and the Palestinian intelligence.

Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, said that he “welcomes” the Egyptian-sponsored reconciliation signed between Hamas and Fatah in Cairo.

Fatah official said the Palestinian president is planning to visit Gaza Strip within a month as part of the unity bid in what would be his first visit in a decade. A senior Fatah leader in the Gaza Strip, Zakaria al-Agha, said that Abbas “will be in Gaza within less than a month.”

He added that sanctions taken by Abbas against Gaza will also soon be lifted.

***

Israel will not recognize a unified Fatah-Hamas Palestinian government unless Hamas disarms, stops terrorism, and recognizes Israel, Israeli government sources said, soon after the rival Palestinian factions announced a reconciliation agreement in Cairo on Thursday, reported The Times of Israel.

The officials said Israel would not accept the reconciliation deal as long as Hamas continues to build terror tunnels in the Gaza Strip and carries out other terror activity, and as long as it is still holding the remains of two Israeli soldiers killed during Operation Protective Edge in 2014, as well as two Israeli citizens.

“Any reconciliation between the (Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority) and Hamas must include a commitment to international agreements and to the conditions of the Quartet, first of which is recognizing Israel and demilitarizing Hamas,” one official said, in the Israeli government’s first reaction to the deal signed in Cairo.

“The continued digging of tunnels, manufacturing of rockets and terror activities against Israel is against the Quartet’s conditions and the efforts of the US to renew the diplomatic process,” the official told Channel 10.

The Israeli official also emphasized that “so long as Hamas does not disarm and continues to call for the destruction of Israel, Israel sees the group as responsible for any terror activity coming out of Gaza.”

“Israel demands that the Palestinian Authority does not allow any Hamas terror activities to be undertaken from the PA authority’s territories in Judea and Samaria as well as from Gaza, if indeed the PA gains control there. Israel will examine developments on the ground and react accordingly,” the official added.

Hamas and Fatah signed the reconciliation deal on Thursday in Cairo under the auspices of Egyptian government. The Palestinian Authority is to retake full control of the Gaza Strip by December 1, according to the deal.

Upon signing the deal, the Hamas deputy political leader said the agreement was reached in order that all Palestinian forces can “work together against the Zionist enterprise.”

Speaking after the agreement was signed, Saleh al-Arouri, who headed the Hamas delegation that negotiated the deal, said Palestinian unity was vital “so that we can all work together against the Zionist enterprise, which seeks to wipe out and trample the rights of our people.”

“We in Hamas are determined, serious and sincere this time and every time to end the division,” Arouri said. “We have adopted the strategy of one step at a time so that the reconciliation will succeed.”

Seated alongside him, Azzam al-Ahmad, the head of the Fatah delegation for the talks, said he had been instructed by Abbas to end the rift between the rival factions so that all the Palestinian people’s strength could be unified, “headed by Fatah and Hamas.”

Islamist terror group Hamas seized control of Gaza from Abbas’s Fatah in a violent coup in 2007. It has since fought three major rounds of conflict against Israel, which it openly seeks to eliminate. Israel has always opposed any “unified” Palestinian government in which Hamas has a role. Together with much of the international community, Israel has demanded, as preconditions for Hamas legitimacy, that the group renounce terrorism, accept Israel’s right to exist, and accept previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements.

Reports from Egypt Thursday, quoted by Israel Radio, said Hamas was not prepared to disarm. The Islamist terror group was said to have instead agreed, under the terms of the emerging reconciliation deal, that it would not use its weaponry unless a resort to force was approved by a joint panel. There was no immediate official confirmation of this.

It was also not immediately clear what would become of Hamas’s 25,000-strong military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades. Abbas had previously demanded that Hamas disarm.

Arouri, who in recent years served as the terror group’s head of West Bank operations, was appointed as the organization’s deputy political leader earlier this month. He serves under Ismail Haniyeh, who himself replaced Khaled Mashaal as the group’s political bureau chief in May.

Arouri is believed by Israel to have planned numerous terrorist attacks including the 2014 kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens in the West Bank — Gil-ad Shaar, Eyal Yifrach and Naftali Fraenkel — which led to the 2014 Israel-Hamas war.

Channel 10 reported last week that Israeli officials fear Arouri’s powerful position in Hamas could lead to an upsurge in terror if Fatah-Hamas reconciliation goes ahead, since Fatah could give Hamas greater flexibility and freedom in the West Bank.

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Reporter: Denes Osvalt
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Category: Politics
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