Published: Mon, September 18, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Hamas Agrees to Fatah Talks on Palestinian Unity

Hamas Agrees to Fatah Talks on Palestinian Unity

The militant group Hamas that rules Gaza moved Sunday to end its decade-long political and territorial split with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement, agreeing to dissolve its administrative body and hold general elections.

Hamas has run Gaza since 2007, when it forced troops loyal to Abbas from the coastal enclave a year after defeating his Fatah movement in parliamentary elections.

The Palestinian Authority, controlled by Fatah and based in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, fought a war with Hamas over Gaza in 2007, which led to Hamas taking over.

There have been numerous attempts since 2011 by Hamas and Fatah to reconcile, but all failed.

The Islamic Resistance Movement a.k.a. Hamas on Sunday announced the dissolution of its Administrative Committee that has been ruling the Gaza Strip, and called for a reconciliation government to carry out its duties in the strip, to hold elections and enter talks with the PLO, Ma'an reported.

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The announcement also came two days after a Fatah delegation arrived in Cairo and two meetings between the parties on Saturday.

Mahmoud Aloul, the second most senior official in Fatah, told the Voice of Palestine radio "this is encouraging news".

Last month, the Gaza head of Hamas, Yahya al-Sinwar, said the movement had increased its military capabilities thanks to newly improved relations with Iran, Israel's arch-enemy.

United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, welcomed the statement by Hamas, and commended the Egyptian authorities for their "tireless efforts in creating this positive momentum".

Abbas, now in NY for the annual meeting of the UN General Assembly, has yet to comment on Hamas's announcement.

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Gaza's economy is in tatters and it has one of the world's highest unemployment rates.

The decision of Hamas to finally hold negotiations with Fatah may indicate first steps towards reconciliation.

Bjorn Brenner, the author of Gaza Under Hamas, said that Hamas agreed to disband its administrative committee because it has come under the pressure to deliver to the people of Gaza.

Among the demands are fresh elections in the West Bank and Gaza, which Hamas has boycotted due to it winning the last election that led to the split.

"Hamas wants to improve the situation in Gaza, but it doesn't want to give up control of it", Bjorn said.

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