PA leader to visit Gaza

Rami Hamdallah, head of the PA government, will travel to Gaza amid reconciliation efforts with Hamas.

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Elad Benari,

Rami Hamdallah
Rami Hamdallah
Reuters

Rami Hamdallah, the head of the Palestinian Authority (PA) Ramallah-based government, will travel to Gaza on October 2 as part of a fresh push to end a decade-long split between Fatah and Hamas, AFP reported Monday.

"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 by official the PA 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," he added.

Hamas announced last week it was willing to hold talks with Fatah, which is headed by Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas, as well as to dismantle the Gaza administrative committee, which served as a local independent governing authority.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh later reiterated the group’s readiness for reconciliation with Fatah.

"We are ready now to receive the national consensus government to enter the Gaza Strip," he said, adding that Hamas was ready to return to Egypt for direct talks with Fatah over the next steps.

Abbas’s spokesman welcomed Hamas's decision to restart reconciliation efforts last week, calling it "a step in the right direction" and a "genuine historic opportunity" to end the rift between the sides.

If the sides do reconcile, it would bring to an end a feud that has been ongoing since 2007, when Hamas violently took control of Gaza in a bloody coup. All attempts to reconcile the sides have thus far failed.

A unity government between the sides collapsed in 2015 when Abbas decided to dissolve it amid a deepening rift between the sides.

The tensions have escalated recently after Hamas established the administrative board tasked with running the day-to-day affairs in Gaza.

Abbas responded to the establishment of the administrative board by creating economic pressure on Hamas in an attempt to force it to cede control of Gaza.

Hamdallah, who is not believed to have travelled to Gaza since 2015, also wrote about the visit to Gaza on his Facebook page.

"I am heading to the beloved Gaza Strip next Monday with the government and all bodies, authorities and security services," he wrote, according to AFP.

"We hope all parties and all Palestinians will focus on the national interest to enable the government to continue carrying out all of its functions in a way which serves the Palestinian citizens first," he added.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum said "we welcome the arrival of the government of consensus to the Gaza Strip, but it must reassure the Palestinian street through practical steps".