PA official visits Gaza as part of unity deal

PA official for border crossings visits Gaza to advance reconciliation deal between Hamas and Fatah.

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The Palestinian Authority's (PA) top official for border crossings visited Gaza on Monday, after Hamas agreed to hand over control of the borders under a reconciliation deal reached last week with longtime rival Fatah.

The two sides signed a reconciliation agreement in Egypt aimed at handing control of Gaza back to the PA a decade after Fatah and Hamas fought a near civil war.

The official, Nazmi Muhanna, told journalists that he had been sent by PA chairman and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas to implement the "first step" in the reconciliation agreement, "the taking over of the crossings."

He said he was hopeful that in talks with Hamas they would agree on handing over the borders quickly.

Hamas has controlled Gaza since seizing it in a bloody coup in 2007. A unity government between the sides collapsed in 2015 when Abbas decided to dissolve it amid a deepening rift between the sides.

The sides reached the reconciliation agreement after Hamas announced it was willing to hold talks with Fatah and dismantle the Gaza administrative committee, which served as a local independent governing authority.

The border crossings are seen as a key test case as to whether the reconciliation agreement will succeed.

They are meant to be handed over to the PA by the beginning of November ahead of the full transfer of power in December.

Israeli officials have expressed skepticism about the agreement. Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said the agreement comes at Israel's expense, while Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu denounced the deal, saying that "reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas makes peace [with Israel] much harder to achieve. “

“Reconciling with mass-murderers is part of the problem, not part of the solution. Say yes to peace and no to joining hands with Hamas," he added.

AFP contributed to this report.








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