Hamas, Fatah reach deal on Palestinian reconciliation

Rival Islamic factions Hamas, which controls Gaza, and the West Bank’s Fatah agreed Thursday to a reconciliation deal allowing the Palestinian Authority to assume control of both areas.

Hamas' Saleh al-Ariri, L, at table, and Fatah's Azam al-Ahmed, R, sign an agreement unifying administrative control of the West Bank and Gaza at a ceremony in Cairo on October 12. The signing followed two-days of negotiations. The Palestinian Authority will assume control of Gaza's border crossings and government administration. Photo by EPA-EFE
Hamas’ Saleh al-Ariri, L, at table, and Fatah’s Azam al-Ahmed, R, sign an agreement unifying administrative control of the West Bank and Gaza at a ceremony in Cairo on October 12. The signing followed two-days of negotiations. The Palestinian Authority will assume control of Gaza’s border crossings and government administration. Photo by EPA-EFE

Palestinians in each area have been ruled separately since 2007, when a split developed between the two Islamic groups.

The two-day talks in Cairo, brokered by Egypt, call for political and administrative control of both areas by the Palestinian Authority, the interim self-governing administration in the West Bank. The authority is regarded as a unity government, and will assume responsibility for Gaza border crossings by Nov. 1, as well as security and other administrative tasks.

The talks focused on integrating Gaza’s Hamas officials into the Palestinian Authority’s government ministries, rebuilding the Gazan police force and managing the border crossings. The presence of the Palestinian Authority is a key element in convincing Egypt and Israel to lift economic blockades of Gaza, Haaretz reported.

The Palestinian Authority government in Ramallah, West Bank, will also administer outstanding salaries owed to Gazan public servants, Turkey’s Anadolu Agency reported, citing a source within the negotiations.

It added that the two sides will meet again in Cairo on Nov. 14 to discuss the procedure for implementing the agreement. Another meeting was scheduled on Dec. 1 to assess the progress of the implementation and a third meeting will be held prior to Feb. 1, 2018, to finish their work.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday the agreement amounts to a “final agreement” to end the rivalry between the two groups.

The deal Thursday is a formal implementation of a 2014 agreement by which Fatah and Hamas formed a unity government to serve the needs of Palestinians in both Gaza and the West Bank.

By Ed Adamczyk