09/18/2017, 09.35
PALESTINE - GAZA
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Hamas towards reconciliation with Fatah. Palestinian leaders call for caution

The movement that controls the Strip open to dissolving the Administrative Committee, to holding general elections and new negotiations on a "unity government". But Fatah's number two preaches prudence: Evaluating "what's going-on on the ground before taking further steps".

Gaza (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Palestinian extremist movement Hamas, which has been controlling the Gaza Strip for a decade, is ready to dissolve the governmental committee and launch general elections for the first time since 2006. The leaders of the movement are also said to be open to new and additional talks with rivals Fatah, who are in power in the West Bank to put an end to a longstanding division that has so far exacerbated the suffering of the Palestinian population.

Hamas and Fatah's representatives met Egyptian negotiators in Cairo in the last few days, the venue for talks between the two groups. Commenting on the statements, Fatah leaders expressed appreciation for the words of Hamas saying they too were open to "negotiating" and form a "unity government."

In the popular note yesterday, the leaders of the movement controlling the Strip spoke of the "dissolution" of the administrative committee, the governing body of the area and rival of the Palestinian administration presided over by Mahmoud Abbas. At the moment it is unclear whether Hamas is available to transfer to Fatah also the control of its security forces.

Azzam al-Ahmad, head of Fatah's delegation in Cairo, stressed that "this step strengthens the unity of the Palestinian political faction and puts an end to the profound division that has caused so much suffering to our people." Fatah's number two welcomed the news, while reminding that there are still many open issues, including border control. "We want to see," he said, "what is happening on the ground before taking further steps."

In 2007, following violent clashes, Hamas took power in the Gaza Strip by defeating its rival Fatah. For years the (timid) attempts of the two factional leaders to form a unity government in Gaza and the West Bank have failed. The area is devastated by unremitting wars and subjected to a total block imposed by Israel, which causes chronic blocks to supply electricity and drinking water.

Within two million people living below the survival threshold, average unemployment is 60% and poverty is 80%. The same goes for Christian families, about 1300 people in total, one third of whom have no source of income. All in a territory of only 360 square kilometers, which has been transformed into a huge open-air prison.

To try to resolve the crisis, Hamas leaders - considered a terrorist group by Israel, the European Union and the United States - have repeatedly called for help from the Egyptian government, particularly for the production and supply of electricity. Last month, leader Yahya al-Sinwar announced the increased military capabilities of the group, thanks to the new alliance with Iran, the historic enemy of the Jewish state in the region.

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