Published: Wed, October 11, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Positive atmosphere in first round of Fatah-Hamas talks in Cairo

Positive atmosphere in first round of Fatah-Hamas talks in Cairo

After dissolving the committee, Abbas instructed last week to send Rami Hamdallah, the prime minister of the Palestinian consensus government, his cabinet and Palestinian security chiefs to Gaza to hand over ruling Gaza.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi has thrown his weight behind the talks, saying last week that Palestinian reconciliation is "preparation for a just peace between Palestinian and Israeli sides".

An emailed statement, issued after ten hours of dialogue held at the Egyptian Security Intelligence Headquarters in Cairo between the leaders of the two rival groups, said the dialogue was dominated by a positive atmosphere.

The meeting discussed "in depth" a number of issues related to the reconciliation "with the objective of ending the suffering of the Palestinian people and easing the living conditions in the Gaza Strip", said the statement.

Far from being an isolated incident, this attack represents the emergence of yet another violent militant faction in Gaza-a densely populated strip of land wedged between Israel and Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, which crams 1.8 million people into an area slightly more than twice the size of Washington, D.C. This major shift toward an even more radical and violent milieu is mainly due to a growing Salafi movement in Gaza, a new phenomenon that threatens the temporary equilibrium of what is usually a turbulent area within the Middle East.

Azzam Al Ahmad, who heads the Fatah delegation, told media persons earlier that the main point of discussion would be "empowering the government in Gaza".

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One cabinet member, Culture Minister Ehab Bseisso, arrived in Gaza on Sunday and held a meeting with deputies and employees after taking up his post.

The shelling targeted a "monitoring station" that belongs to Islamic Hamas movement's military wing Al-Qassam brigades, the sources said. The Egyptian delegation in Gaza would also help facilitate movement through the Rafah border crossing, as well as help to solve the electricity and water crises now plaguing the Strip.

The Palestinian leadership has been divided between Fatah and Hamas since 2006, when the latter scored a landslide victory in parliamentary elections in the Gaza Strip.

Mirroring Haniyeh's statement, Ahmad added: "The decision of the type of resistance is a national decision, not a sectarian one, and no one has the right to take the decision to wage war alone".

The PA had in the past few months cut the salaries of several Gaza employees and sacked a number of others in an attempt to pressure Hamas to return the coastal strip back under the control of the Palestinian government.

The Islamists of Hamas and the West Bank-based Fatah movement of Abbas have been at odds since they fought a near civil war in 2007.

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