Fatah-Hamas reconciliation efforts irk Netanyahu

The Islamist movement Hamas has run Gaza since its violent take-over of the territory in 2007 from the PA, which is based in Ramallah in the West Bank and is dominated by the rival Fatah movement.

Hamas has ruled the territory since 2007, when it seized it from the PA in a near civil war and multiple previous reconciliation attempts have failed.

"We are here to turn the page on division, restore the national project to its correct direction and establish the [Palestinian] state", he said. "The government does not have a magic wand", he told reporters.

Though in recent months the group has seen a thawing of relations with the Egyptian government.

Another cause for wariness on Abbas' part is the role of Egypt's Palestinian protégé, Mohammed Dahlan.

"The whole world is watching the efforts at achieving reconciliation between the leaders of the Palestinian people", El-Sissi said in a recorded speech played during a meeting between his intelligence chief, Khaled Fawzi, and Hamdallah. Negotiations are expected to move to Cairo next week to work on the more hard issues. The 11-year blockade has impoverished Gaza's economy and left its two million inhabitants without adequate electricity, food, water or health services.

The holding of a council of ministers in Gaza must prefigure the transfer of responsibilities from Hamas to the palestinian Authority.

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One major issue which the PA and Hamas will have to negotiate is what the latter calls "armed resistance" - what Israel and many others would call terrorism.

Spokespersons for the Palestinian government, Fatah party and Hamas movement all expressed their support for the meeting, saying it showed an unprecedented unity of the country. This isn't a Palestinian reconciliation, but rather Mahmoud Abbas cozying up to a murderous terror organization", adding that "Transferring funds to a Hamas government is like Israel transferring money to ISIS in return for the cash.

Israel said any deal would be unacceptable unless Hamas disarmed.

However, Haniyeh said that Hamas is prepared to discuss "how and when to resist" with Fatah and other Palestinian groups.

Benjamin Netanyahu says the attempt at reconciliation between the Islamic militant Hamas and the Western-backed Fatah must involve recognizing Israel, disbanding Hamas' military wing and cutting ties with Hamas' patron Iran.

In response Hamas said Israel was the primary beneficiary of the division.

Hamas retains a powerful military wing that has fought three wars with Israel since 2008 and Hamas officials reject the possibility of dissolving it. The government will try to manage the Gaza Strip, which was under Hamas control for more than 10 years. "There are two arms: the arm of the police and the government, and the arm of resistance", he said.

  • Sonia Alvarado