Palestinian rivals Fatah and Hamas agree milestone reconciliation
Poriborton Desk 12:58 pm, October 12, 2017
Hailed as the end of a "dark division," long-time Palestinian rivals Fatah and Hamas have reached a reconciliation agreement after a decade of failed attempts and often bitter acrimony, according to statements from the factions. Hamas media spokesman Taher al-Nouno posted on social media that an agreement had been reached early Thursday morning, reports CNN.
"The head of the Hamas political bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, announced that an agreement was reached at dawn today between Fatah and Hamas," al-Nouno posted on his Facebook page.
Fatah Central Committee member Zakaria al-Agha posted on Facebook, "The dark division has ended. Thank God and our congratulations to our Palestinian people everywhere."
Fatah spokesman Usama Qawasmi confirmed a comprehensive reconciliation agreement had been reached between Fatah and Hamas "under Egyptian blessing."
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a meeting of the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah ahead of Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah's visit to Gaza.
The two groups had started reconciliation talks, mediated by the Egyptian government, in Cairo Tuesday.
The direct talks followed a round of Egyptian-led indirect talks in Cairo in mid-September.
Fatah, the party of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, governs the West Bank; Hamas runs Gaza.
Neither Fatah nor Hamas have released details of the reconciliation agreement, leaving an open question on how this agreement addresses points where previous reconciliation attempts are believed to have fallen apart before.
The Palestinian Authority had demanded, for example, that Hamas disband its military wing and relinquish security control to the Palestinian Authority, a point Hamas had refused to concede.
Control of Gaza's borders had also previously been an impassable disagreement between Fatah and Hamas.
One day before the latest round of talks began, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told a Fatah Revolutionary Council meeting that reconciliation was a "priority that we seek to achieve by all means possible."
He said the two sides were going to Cairo "resolved and determined to make it happen and achieve concrete results in that respect."
The detente between Fatah and the Islamist Hamas could mean the end of a decade-long rift between the West Bank and Gaza that started in 2007, after Hamas violently evicted the rival Fatah-led Palestinian Authority (PA) from the coastal enclave.
Earlier in October, Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, entering Gaza for the first time in two years, promised to heal divisions and improve the lives of Gazans, who have been living under an Israeli-Egyptian imposed blockade and failing infrastructure damaged after several wars with Israel.
Two weeks earlier, Hamas had announced it would disband its Gaza "administrative committee"-- established earlier this year and seen as a direct challenge to the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority (PA), allowing a Palestinian unity government to work in its place and move toward general elections.
The talks had their roots in a 2011 meeting aimed at reconciliation, also mediated by Cairo.
The push for reunification comes as Gaza faces a mounting humanitarian crisis.
The United Nations warns the coastal enclave may be unlivable by 2020. Electricity is available for only a few hours a day.
Barely one in 10 residents has access to safe drinking water through the public water network, and the UN projects that Gaza's aquifer may become unusable at the end this year.
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