Hamas blocks reconciliation until agreement reached with Israel
Though PA and Hamas seemed to be moving toward a reconciliation earlier in the week, the situation remains precarious, with PA Pres. Abbas stating he will not tolerate illegal weapons in Gaza, and Hamas demanding agreement with Israel before dismantling its military wing.
Despite signs of an approaching Hamas-Palestinian Authority (PA) reconciliation
earlier in the week, their basis for a truce continues to be tenuous, with Egyptian Intelligence Minister Khaled Fawzy informing PA President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday that Hamas is refusing to consider dismatling its military wing until certain preliminary requisites are met.
Among Hamas' demands are that new elections be held among the Palestinians, and that an agreement be reached with Israel regarding the matter of the Palestinian state its people.
According to Arab media reports, Azzam Al-Ahmad—PA official in charge of the reconciliation with Hamas—signed a document three weeks ago, stating that the issue of disarming Hamas' military wing would not be discussed in any way before reaching a political agreement with Israel.
The issue, however, was re-examined following Abbas' interviews with the Egyptian media, in which he made it clear that he would not accept the Hezbollah model in Lebanon—meaning that he would not allow Hamas to continue to hold illegal weapons within the Gaza Strip.
At the beginning of next week, the PA and Hamas delegations will arrive in Cairo to begin discussions on the different clauses of the reconciliation agreement, including the PA's assumption of responsibility for the strip.
PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah led a delegation from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip on Monday, in what was the most public gesture at a truce between the two rival political factions Hamas and Fatah (which heads the PA), since Hamas seized control of Gaza over a decade ago.
Hamdallah began his visit with a message of reconciliation, shortly after arriving in a 30-vehicle motorcade through the Erez border crossing separating Israel and Gaza. He was accompanied by a large delegation of Fatah officials from the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority, dozens of aides and armed bodyguards.
"The only way to statehood is through unity," said Hamdallah, speaking at a welcome ceremony attended by Fatah and Hamas officials. "We are coming to Gaza again to deepen the reconciliation and end the split."
US President Donald Trump's envoy to the Middle East, Jason Greenblatt, welcomed the arrival of the PA to Gaza, but made it clear that any reconciliation would have to recognize Israel.
"As the Palestinian Authority Cabinet visits Gaza today in preparation for the October 3 cabinet meeting, the United States welcomes efforts to create the conditions for the Palestinian Authority to fully assume its responsibilities in Gaza, as noted in the September 28 Quartet statement," he declared in the brief.
"We will be watching these developments closely, while pressing forward with the Palestinian Authority, Israel, and international donors to try to improve the humanitarian situation in Gaza," he added.
Disappointment follows Hamdallah's Gaza visit
Though Hamdallah was hailed by local Gazan residents upon his arrival, Hamas expressed great disappointment that he did not declare that the PA would lifting sanctions from Gaza. Sources in Gaza told Ynet that Hamas would have made do with removing even one of the sanctions imposed by Abbas; namely, that the PA would subsidize the excise tax on diesel fuel entering the Gaza Strip for the operation of Gaza's power plant, or that the PA would resume paying for the electricity Israel supplies to the strip.
However, Hamas now expects the sanctions to be lifted next week, during the PA-Hamas meeting in Cairo.
As Egypt Deepens its involvement in the Palestinian reconciliation efforts, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi stated Tuesday during a meeting with Fawzy and Hamdallah that "history will pay its debt to anyone who misses the opportunity for peace.
"It is necessary that the Palestinian disagreements be resolved internally with the support of the Arab states, and without the intervention of an outside party," he emphasized. "Egypt will invest everything in order to bring about the success of the mission.
"We must work together to emphasize the sincerity of the Palestinian people's adjustment toward a just peace in the region. The whole world is waiting for internal Palestinian reconciliation. We do not have time to waste."