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Hamas Agrees To Demands To End Decade-Long Palestinian Rift

17 September 2017, 12:54 | Taylor George

Hamas says it accepts Abbas's reconciliation demands

Hamas paves way for Palestinian elections as it signals readiness to end Fatah feud

"Hamas's step is a positive indication if they really dissolved the administrative committee and showed its willingness to hand over control to the unity government", Mahmoud al-Aloul, Abbas's deputy in the Fatah party that governs the West Bank, said on Voice of Palestine radio.

Hamas's statement said the move came as a direct result of Egyptian negotiations for Palestinian unity, saying it wanted talks "to achieve Palestinian reconciliation and end the division".

Hamas also expressed its readiness to meet the Egyptian call for dialogue with the PLO on the mechanisms of implementation of the May 2012 Fatah-Hamas Cairo Agreement - signed by Fatah's Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, and Hamas' leader Khaled Mashal, on the formation of an interim government in preparation for elections for a new Palestinian government.

Israel and Egypt have since imposed a blockade on Gaza; Egypt intermittently opens its border crossing into Gaza.

Delegations from Fatah and Hamas traveled last week to Cairo to discuss reconciliation. The UN has even ruled that enclave, one of most densely populated areas in world (2 million inhabitants) would become "unlivable" by 2020.

The group said in an emailed statement that it had agreed to dismantle the administrative committee that runs Gaza and hold nationwide elections.

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Hamas's leadership held talks with Mohammed Dahlan - the exiled former Fatah leader in Gaza whose supporters Hamas defeated when it wrested control of the territory in the 2007 civil war - amid hopes he could persuade Egypt to come to the aid of Gazans struggling under the decade-long Israeli-led blockade.

The formation of Hamas committee, which was considered by Abbas as a shadow government, caused Abbas' tight unprecedented measures against the Gaza Strip, such as reducing 30 percent of the employee salaries, stop paying for electricity services and sending 7,000 employees to early retirement.

Despite Sunday's announcement, any reconciliation deal faces many obstacles.

The deal was not clear whether Hamas is ready to place its security forces under Abbas' control - a key sticking point that has scuttled past attempts.

Abbas, now in NY for the annual meeting of the UN General Assembly, has yet to comment on Hamas's announcement. Gaza's economy is in tatters and residents of the territory have electricity for only a few hours a day.

United Nations officials have urged Israel to lift its decade-long blockade of Gaza.



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