Palestinian cabinet convenes in Gaza in move to reconcile with Hamas

MOHAMMED ABED

The internationally recognised Palestinian Authority (PA) has signed a peace deal with Hamas which runs Gaza and has fought three wars with the Jewish state since 2008.

Jason Greenblatt at a previous meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The Israeli government had previously kept quiet about the latest attempts at reconciliation, announced by Hamas two weeks ago, despite showing strong opposition to any deal in the past.

Bennett was remarking on the visit by PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah in the Gaza Strip on Monday for the first time since 2014, as the PA and its rival, the Hamas terror group which rules Gaza, initiated the first steps in forming a unity government.

"We return to Gaza in order to conclude reconciliation and national unity and end the painful impacts of divisions and to rebuild Gaza brick by brick", he said.

"The government does not have a magic wand", he told reporters.

Egyptian intelligence chief Khaled Fawzy arrived in Gaza on Tuesday to deliver a boost of support.

Also helping to arrange the agreement were Egyptian President Abdel-Fatah el-Sisi, who wants Hamas' cooperation in deterring attacks on Egyptian soldiers in the northern Sinai peninsula bordering Gaza.

"The Palestinian National Authority will be in charge of the crossings", he said, explaining that the crossings, the ministries and security should be in the hands of the Palestinian Authority if the reconciliation efforts are to succeed.

The sides will hold further talks on Tuesday in Cairo.

Senior delegates from Egypt arrived in the besieged Gaza strip on Sunday, ahead of talks created to unite Palestine's Fatah and Hamas groups.

"Hamas now isn't interested in ruling Gaza alone", said Ghazi Hamad, a de facto foreign minister for Hamas in Gaza. Hamas once governed the region jointly with the Fatah political party, which now leads the Authority.

"Without Palestinian unity, there is no Palestinian state", said Abbas.

"If it does, then it's a non-starter for Israel", he said.

Turkey next year will take over the chair of the Advisory Commission of United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the main U.N. entity tasked with helping Palestinians in Palestinian territories.

In response Hamas said Israel was the primary beneficiary of the division.

Abbas, too, demands that Hamas disarm, saying he "won't accept the reproduction of the Hezbollah experience in Lebanon".

Hamas officials reject the possibility of disarming.

Masri said Palestinian presidential and legislative elections could be held under Egypt's umbrella, highlighting that the Arab state had sacrificed dearly for the sake of Palestine.

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