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Palestinian Reconciliation Moves Forward as Hamas Leader Warns Process ‘Could Be Long’

October 1, 2017 Peace and Conflict

Could Abbas also shake hands with Hamas? U.S. Secretary of State Tillerson with Palestinian President Abbas. Illustrative. Photo Courtesy of U.S. State Department

The latest Palestinian governmental reconciliation process is underway, with officials from the Palestinian Authority (PA) led by the Fatah faction starting to enter Hamas-controlled Gaza on Sunday, according to report by the Ma’an News Agency. An Egyptian security delegation also arrived in Gaza, per the report. Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum welcomed the Egyptians in a statement published to the Hamas website. “The visit is a result of the Cairo understandings between Egypt and Hamas and a continuation of the Egyptian efforts to support the Palestinian reconciliation and to end division. We, in Hamas, are working to lead the highly appreciated Egyptian efforts to success.”

Meanwhile, a news report on the Hamas website reported that the group’s political head, Ismail Haniyeh spoke by phone with PA and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas on the topic of receiving that PA official delegation. Despite the signs of progress, Haniyeh warned in a statement one day earlier that the overall process may take a while.

A report in The Jerusalem Post published Haniyeh’s comments, in which he noted that they “understand that the inner-Palestinian reconciliation process could be long, because of the setbacks along the way,” as well as a number of issues to be resolved. However, the report quoted Haniyeh as saying that they “are certain that we have started tearing down the wall of separation.”

The Middle East Quartet—consisting of the United States, the United Nations, Russia and the European Union—issued a statement welcoming the efforts to “create the conditions for the Palestinian Authority to assume its responsibilities in Gaza.”

The statement, published by the US State Department, urged those involved to “take concrete steps to reunite Gaza and the West Bank under the legitimate Palestinian Authority.” They expressed the expectation that this would “facilitate lifting the closures of the crossings” into Gaza, “while addressing Israel’s legitimate security concerns, and unlock international support for Gaza’s growth.”

Israel and Egypt have long maintained restrictions on what and who is allowed in and out of Gaza following the takeover of the area by the Hamas terrorist organization.

Hamas and Fatah have been divided since 2007, but the hope by the Quartet that a reunification would alleviate Israel’s security concerns is poorly founded.

In a press release published by Hamas on Sunday on their website honoring the terrorism campaign over Jerusalem that started two years ago, the group reiterated that “the sole choice for restoring land and rights is resistance,” a term regularly used for terror attacks.

Hamas certainly made their view on such violence clear after the latest terror attack in Har Adar last week. The IDF Spokesman’s Twitter feed posted a picture of a Hamas tweet translated from Arabic blessing the “championed Jerusalem operation” and the “champion and martyr” who carried out the attack. Tweeted the IDF Spokesperson, “This incitement must end.”

It’s the group behind such incitement that will be working together with the supposedly moderate Palestinian leadership to build a new Palestinian united government.

(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, October 1, 2017)

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