Egypt hails 'opportunity' for Palestinian unity

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah shakes hands with Hamas Chief Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza City

Hamdallah, who pays a first visit with his team to the Gaza Strip since October 2014, has earlier chaired the first weekly cabinet meeting in Gaza City before Hamas movement handed over his various ministers to Hamdallah government.

The Palestinian prime minister has appealed for unity at the start of a rare trip to Gaza, as part of efforts to end a rift between Fatah and Hamas.

Under previous understandings, some 3,000 Fatah security men would be integrated gradually into a Gaza police force overseen by an Interior Ministry headed by Hamdallah.

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami al-Hamdallah said his government is determined to take full responsibility for the Gaza Strip without any exceptions.

However, Haniyeh said that Hamas is prepared to discuss "how and when to resist" with Fatah and other Palestinian groups. "Achieving Palestinian reconciliation encourages donor nations to meet their commitments towards Gaza", he said, going on to call on the global community to put pressure on Israel to "lift the siege on the Gaza Strip".

During the cabinet meeting, Mr Hamdallah said the achievement of reconciliation would cause donor countries to fulfill their financial commitments to the PA.

"Hamas demanded that the people's grievances be addressed in the meeting", he said.

Delegations from both Hamas and Fatah will head to Cairo next week for talks on implementing the agreement.

This is far from the first attempt at Palestinian reconciliation - and Hamas will want something in return for concessions.

"We will not allow our national cause to be dragged in any Arab or global disputes", he said. He can be expected to make haste slowly - and to blame Hamas if a reconciliation deal fails to materialize. Hamas also dissolved its own administrative committee and said it was ready to hold elections.

Officials on both sides said the more hard issues will be addressed at the upcoming talks in Cairo. "It will enable the Palestinian brothers to close their ranks and to realize the aspirations of the Palestinian people so that they will be able to continue the political process to regain their legitimate rights", the source added.

"I think Gazans need to wait a long time until they see significant changes happening on the ground".

For Hamas to foreswear the option of resistance so soon after reaffirming it (in the most important policy document it has issued since its 1988 charter) would be tantamount to total capitulation. Israel captured all three areas in the 1967 Six-Days War, although it withdrew from Gaza in 2005.

In a press briefing with reporters hosted by The Israel Project, Ehud Yaari, an expert on the PA, noted that while Hamas is exhausted of governing the Gaza Strip, its leaders have been quite clear that "they are of course going to remain a resistance movement" and would "maintain and develop their armed forces".

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