Fatah official Nabil Shaath returned from a three-day visit to the Gaza Strip on Friday after meeting with Hamas officials and said, "We have paved the way to new ties based on cooperation and trust."
Shaath arrived in Gaza on Wednesday, accompanied by a Fatah delegation, for the first time since Hamas took over the area in 2007.
Shaath said his visit centered on "the need to end the Palestinian division." He commented on efforts towards the singing of a truce agreement and said "the brothers in Hamas said they will sign the agreement, and when this happens – the two movements will renew the Palestinian unity."
These comments from the Fatah official come days after Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashaal said in Damascus that such an agreement was attainable.
During his visit in the Strip, Shaath met with Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, visited al-Azhar University and the various government ministries. In addition, he visited the home of former PA chairman Yasser Arafat in the city, and met with his sister Khadijeh.
The rare visit did not receive positive responses from all factions in the Strip. Hamas officials initially threatened not to allow the Fatah delegation into the Strip's territory. This led Gaza governor Abdullah Abu Samhadana to publicly object to the threat, saying, "Palestinians always have the right to return to their homeland, regardless of their political affiliation."
Hamas official Dr. Salah al-Bardawil said earlier this week: "We do not hang many hopes on the outcome of the visit, even if this leads to new dialogue with the Fatah movement."