Hamas, Fatah officials celebrate unity (archive)
Hamas, Fatah officials celebrate unity (archive)Reuters

Eight ministers and 39 employees of the Ramallah-based Palestinian unity government arrived in Gaza through the Erez crossing on Monday, in the second visit of its kind since the unity government was formed in June.

Government spokesman Ihab Bseiso told the Ma'an news agency that the visit aims to foster "real cooperation between all political parties that signed the Cairo and the al-Shati agreements to ease the Palestinian Authority's work in Gaza," adding that they intended for the visit to be a support for Gazans following last summer’s war.

"We are here to help all Palestinian parties lighten the suffering of Gazans," he said, according to Ma’an.

The visit comes amid mounting criticism in Gaza of the unity government's failure to assert its authority in Gaza and coordinate the entry of reconstruction material.

The Palestinian Minister of Labor, Mamoun Abu Shahla, told Ma'an that the highest priority issues on the agenda are reconstruction, helping residents find employment, the issues facing Gaza workers, opening the crossing, and finding a solution to ensure that reconstruction material can enter the Strip.

Abu Shahla added that there are several major problems including power, water, sewage, and providing shelters to those displaced that need to be tackled by government authorities.

Despite the visit, dozens of those whose homes were damaged during in Gaza last summer held a protest at the Erez crossing into Israel, which was the site of large rallies Sunday as well in protest against perceived inaction.

Monday's protesters took up similar issues, protesting the "PA's neglect of the cause" of the 110,000 Gazans left homeless.

The unity government, formed after years of rivalry between Hamas and Fatah, has been unable to function and there have been signs that it is crumbling.

The most recent reconciliation attempt has been rocked by tensions, most notably Hamas's attempt to stage a violent coup in Judea and Samaria against the Palestinian Authority.

Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri said earlier this month that the six-month mandate of the unity government agreed on in April and established in June had ended.

He added that "national dialogue and consensus" should decide whether to break apart the government or change its members, adding Hamas "isn't interested in incitement, but rather seeks to maintain national unity."

Two weeks ago, the head of Hamas’s politburo, Khaled Mashaal, said that the Palestinian reconciliation "scene" was not satisfying.

Mashaal told the al-Risala newspaper that the "reconciliation scene is not satisfying and it is painful; this should prompt us and be a challenge to us because this is not a marginal subject."

Hamas has also refused the PA's demands that it let it supervise rebuilding in Gaza - furthering sowing discord between the two factions.