Palestine cabinet holds first unity cabinet meeting in Gaza
The Palestinian Authority government, led by Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, has held its meeting in Gaza for the first time amid efforts to end a decade-long split between the Fatah-led Authority and the resistance movement of Hamas.
“We are here to turn the page on division, restore the national project to its correct direction and establish the (Palestinian) state,” Hamdallah said in an opening speech on Tuesday.
The session took place at the official Gaza residence of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the cabinet office.
Fatah and Hamas have been at odds ever since the latter scored a landslide victory in Palestinian parliamentary elections in 2006. Hamas governs the Gaza Strip, while Fatah has set up offices in the West Bank.
The two rival Palestinian factions finally agreed on a unity government in April 2014, but it fell apart months later.
Last month, Hamas announced that it had agreed to dissolve its administrative committee in Gaza, handing over the administrative responsibilities to the unity government formed three years ago.
It also invited the Palestinian Authority led by President Mahmoud Abbas to return to the territory and hold new elections in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
The announcement followed negotiations in Cairo between Hamas leaders and Egyptian officials.
Fatah has welcomed the announcement and expressed hope that the Palestinian Authority would start taking over Gaza this week.
UN Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov said on Monday that he was “carefully optimistic” about the reconciliation talks.
“If the region stays engaged, if Egypt’s role continues and if the political parties themselves continue to show the willingness they are currently showing to work with us on this process, then it can succeed,” he added.
Hamas runs Gaza’s security affairs which the group has said it will not give up. Last week, both Hamas deputy chief in Gaza Khalil al-Hayya and Hamas politburo member Musa Abu Marzouk stressed that the group’s arms are non-negotiable.
“No bartering or touching the weapons of the resistance,” Hayya said on Wednesday, stressing that they were reserved for fighting Israel. “We will fight the occupation with all means of resistance until [it] is wiped away.”
Hamas has fought off three Israeli wars on Gaza and been managing the coastal enclave’s affairs in the face of a crippling Israeli siege