Hamas makes move toward Palestinian reconciliation

The statement added that this comes in order to achieve the hope of the Palestinian people, to achieve national unity, and indicated Hamas' for the general elections.

The Islamist Hamas movement, which has controlled the Gaza Strip since 2007, announced it is ready to dissolve the administration it had established in recent months to manage the affairs of Gaza, hold general elections and immediately begin direct reconciliation talks with the rival Fatah movement headed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Hamas agreed to dissolve the administrative committee it had formed in March previous year to run the daily affairs in the Gaza Strip, the coastal enclave that Hamas has been ruling since it had violently taken control of it in the summer of 2007.

Since then, the Palestinian leadership has been divided between two rival governments, with Hamas controlling Gaza and Abbas in charge of autonomous enclaves in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

File: Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, left, and Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh from Hamas, right, raise their linked arms as they move through the crowd at a special session of parliament in Gaza City, March 17, 2007.

The announcement came after separate talks by Hamas and Fatah delegations with Egyptian intelligence officials in Cairo.

Hamas has been greatly weakened by an Israeli and Egyptian blockade, three wars with Israel and global isolation.

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Aiming to pressure Hamas to relinquish control of Gaza, Mr Abbas cut payments to Israel for the electricity it supplies to the enclave, leading to power provided for less than four hours on some days, and never more than six hours a day.

By doing this, Hamas has demonstrated a willingness to reach agreement with the Palestinian Fatah movement under the mediation of Egypt.

Israel and Egypt have imposed a blockade on Gaza since the Hamas' takeover, although Egypt intermittently opens its border crossing into Gaza.

Numerous attempts since 2011 to reconcile the two movements and form a power-sharing unity government in Gaza and the West Bank have so far failed.

However, Bjorn was skeptical if Hamas's announcement on Sunday would lead to a full-fledged reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah.

Abbas Zaki, another senior-level Fatah official close to Abbas, also commended the initiative.

United Nations officials have called for the blockade to be lifted, but Israel says it is necessary to stop Hamas from obtaining weapons or materials that could be used to make them.

  • Sonia Alvarado