Palestinian PM to visit Gaza for reconciliation talks


The two sides have been locked in a struggle over a unity deal that could loosen Hamas's hold on Gaza

A PA employee holds a poster of Yasser Arafat during a pay protest in Gaza City (Reuters)
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Last update: 
Monday 25 September 2017 11:28 UTC

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah will head to Gaza on 2 October as part of reconciliation efforts with Hamas, which runs the territory, his government said on Monday.

The visit follows concessions by Hamas after its discussions with Egypt. The group had been urged by Cairo to take steps toward reconciliation with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah, which is based in the occupied West Bank.

The two sides have been locked in a struggle over a unity deal that could loosen Hamas's hold on Gaza - territory it won from forces loyal to Abbas in 2007. Hamas won Gaza elections in 2006.

"Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah has decided after consulting with President Mahmoud Abbas that the government will hold its weekly meeting in Gaza next week," government spokesman Yusuf al-Mahmoud said in a statement published on official Palestinian news agency WAFA.

"Hamdallah and members of the government will arrive in Gaza next Monday to start taking over government responsibilities after Hamas announced its agreement to dissolve the administrative committee and enable the government to assume its full responsibilities."

Hamas said a week ago that it had agreed to steps toward resolving the split with Fatah, announcing it would dissolve a body seen as a rival government - known as the administrative committee - and was ready to hold elections.

Failed attempts at unity

In 2014 Fatah and Hamas agreed to form a unity government that was meant to resolve their dispute but it has remained stillborn, with no real control in either territory.

And last year the Palestinian government postponed the first municipal polls in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip in 10 years after the high court ruled they should be held only in the Fatah-run West Bank.

Earlier this year the Palestinian Authority told Israel it would no longer pay for the electricity Israel supplies to Gaza, Israeli officials said. As a result Gaza's two million people have endured blackouts.

In April the Palestinian Authority imposed pay cuts on its civil servants in Gaza, sparking anger and protests among its employees there. PA had said the pay cuts were necessary because its budget has been hit by falling foreign aid.

After Hamas seized power, around 70,000 PA employees in Gaza lost their posts but they were kept on its payroll nevertheless. Hamas set up its own parallel administration with 50,000 staff, whose salaries the PA refuses to pay.