PA leader welcomed by Gazans

Rami Hamdallah, head of PA government, visits Gaza for the first time in two years.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Rami Hamdallah and Ismail Haniyeh
Rami Hamdallah and Ismail Haniyeh

Rami Hamdallah, the head of the Palestinian Authority (PA) Ramallah-based government, visited Gaza for the first time in two years Monday, in a potential first step to ending a decade-long conflict between Fatah and Hamas.

Hamdallah said the PA would resume control of Gaza's government in the coming days.

Washington gave a cautious welcome to the PA's return to Gaza, while stressing that any new Palestinian government would have to renounce violence and recognize Israel.

"The United States welcomes efforts to create the conditions for the Palestinian Authority to fully assume its responsibilities in Gaza," White House special envoy Jason Greenblatt wrote on his Facebook page.

"Any Palestinian government must unambiguously and explicitly commit to nonviolence, recognition of the State of Israel, acceptance of previous agreements and obligations between the parties and peaceful negotiations," he added.

Hamdallah was welcomed by thousands of Gazans, with hopes that this reconciliation plan can avoid the problems that wrecked several previous attempts.

Hamdallah’s visit was made possible 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 two groups have been at odds 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 PA chairman and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas decided to dissolve it amid a deepening rift between the sides.

Hamdallah said on Monday the two sides would get to work on reconciliation immediately.

"The government began to exercise its roles in Gaza from today," he said, adding, "We return to Gaza again to end the division and achieve unity."

Later he met with Hamas's overall leader Ismail Haniyeh and its Gaza chief Yahya Sinwar, and is expected to chair a cabinet meeting.

AFP contributed to this report.