Popular celebration in Gaza over PA Reconciliation visit

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The reconciliation was facilitated three weeks ago when Hamas, the de facto power in Gaza since 2007, has dissolved the administrative committee it had established in March to run Gaza affairs and agreed to turn over power to the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority.

But the fate of Hamas' armed wing, the Iz al-Din al-Qassam brigades, remains a strong point of contention.

Palestinian Authority and Egyptian officials on Sunday have begun to enter the Gaza Strip from the Israeli and Egyptian border crossings, in advance of the Hamas handing over control to the Mahmoud Abbas government, Ma'an reported.

"We return to Gaza in order to conclude reconciliation and national unity and end the painful impacts of divisions and to rebuild Gaza brick by brick", says Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah in his visit to the Gaza Strip.


In addition to setting a date for holding presidential and parliamentary elections, the factions will have to resolve the issue of the fate of the 40,000 to 50,000 civil and military staff Hamas had hired since 2007.

Hamas spokesman Fawzy Barhoum told the Maan news agency that he was optimistic about the success of reconciliation, citing "unprecedented Palestinian will by all parties". "We are coming to Gaza again to deepen the reconciliation and end the split".

The Palestinian prime minister has arrived in Gaza for the most ambitious attempt yet to reconcile the rival Palestinian factions.

"I call on everyone without exception to embrace the leadership, reconciliation, national unity and to put our national interest above all narrow party considerations and interests", Hamdallah said on a small and overcrowded stage, squeezed between Palestinian officials and security detail. But they also paved the way for a bitter showdown over global demands that Hamas surrender its weapons and recognize Israel's right to exist as part of a peace agreement.

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"But if the region stays engaged, if Egypt's role continues and if the political parties themselves continue to show the willingness they are now showing to work with us on this process, then it can succeed".

Mr Hamdallah promised the government would focus on rebuilding Gaza from devastation incurred from Israeli bombardments in the 2014 war and work to improve living conditions hampered by a decade of Israeli and Egyptian partial blockade.

Following the press conference on Monday, Hamdallah visited the Shujaiyeh neighborhood in Gaza, where he met with a Palestinian who lost his home during Operation Protective Edge.

It failed to function in Gaza because of disputes between Hamas and Fatah over its responsibilities.

In this respect, Eisen believes that there is "no chance whatsoever [that Hamas will agree to disarm]".

So are the two sides - and the global community - really ready to accept the potentially risky outcome of a poll?

The United States, Israel and others consider Hamas a terrorist group as it refuses to accept Israel's right to exist.

The outcome will determine the Palestinians' acceptance on the global stage.