Hamas deal to cede Gaza control sets up showdown over guns

An Egyptian security control tower near the Egypt Gaza border at Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip

An Egyptian security control tower near the Egypt Gaza border at Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip

Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah arrived in the Gaza Strip on Monday for the first time since 2015, as the PA and its rival, the Gaza-ruling terror group Hamas, initiated the first steps in forming a unity government.

Rami Hamdallah will travel to Gaza today to advance a fresh effort at reconciling Fatah and Hamas.

Addressing the crowds, he urged people to support the reconciliation efforts.

Analysts said narrowing internal divisions could help Western-backed President Mahmoud Abbas counter Israel's argument that it has no negotiating partner for peace.

For Israel, the prospect of Hamas preserving any form of "security" control over Gaza, along with the Rafah border crossing into Egypt, could prevent Jerusalem from significantly easing the blockade on the Strip-which suffers from severe water and electricity shortages and unemployment of more than 40 percent.

Shaath explained that Fawzi will head to Gaza after his meeting with Abbas to overlook the government handover process after the Islamic Hamas movement dissolved the "administrative committee" that it formed a year ago to act instead of the government.

In recent months, the PA has been accused of deliberately sending the impoverished Gaza Strip further into a humanitarian catastrophe - by slashing funding for Israeli fuel, medicine, and salaries for civil servants and former prisoners - in order to pressure Hamas to give up control of Gaza.

Hamdallah is scheduled to meet with Hamas political chief Ismail Haniyeh later Monday and conduct a tour of the coastal territory.

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"It is a day of Eid, a national holiday", said Abdel-Majid Ali, 46.

The Quartet, an worldwide body represented by the US, UN, EU and Russian Federation, said last Thursday that the reunification of the West Bank and Gaza under the PA would "unlock global support for Gaza's growth, stability and prosperity".

"We hope this time reconciliation is for real".

Dahlan, based since 2011 in the United Arab Emirates, is behind an influx of cash to prop up Gaza and detente between Hamas and Arab states including Egypt, which hosted reconciliation talks.

The Palestinian schism is seen as a major obstacle to a peace agreement between Israel and a future Palestinian state combining the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

"The agenda is crowded with ideas and projects", Culture Minister Ehad Bseisso said.

On Gaza City's busy Omar al Mukhtar Boulevard, people are cautiously optimistic."The government in Ramallah is certainly most welcome, but we also know that files have piled up over the past 11 years that need to be dealt with and I don't think they have a magic stick to resolve everything overnight", says Raed Issa. The PA does not believe in the legitimacy of Hamas' arms. Hamas is also classified as a terrorist organization by Israel. The punitive measures will be lifted as soon as this government takes power, according to Azzam al-Ahmad, a senior official in the Fatah movement that dominates the PA.

"This will inevitably lead to destruction of the potential new unity government".

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