Palestinian prime minister visits Hamas-ruled Gaza amid reconciliation efforts

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

Hamdallah is leading a delegation from the West Bank to Gaza on Monday in the most ambitious attempt at reconciliation between the rival Palestinian factions since Hamas seized control of Gaza a decade ago.

"The word "reconciliation" is sometimes understood by Hamas in one way, and the West Bank in another way", says Sami Abdel-Shafi, an independent political consultant in Gaza City.

Hamas' reversal was the most significant step towards Palestinian unity since the government was formed in 2014. "Hamas needs Egypt and needs to open the borders while the authority wants to show America and Israel that they represent all Palestinian people whether in Gaza or the West Bank".

Haniyeh said, "We understand that the inner-Palestinian reconciliation process could be long, because of the setbacks along the way, and the fact that there are many issues that require fearless decisions, but we are certain that we have started tearing down the wall of separation".

Asked whether the United States would accept reconciliation between Hamas and the PA, Mladenov said it was too early for such discussions.

"We look forward to turning over the page of division forever, and achieving comprehensive national reconciliation that would strengthen the perseverance of our people and preserve their rights", Iyad al-Buzom, spokesperson for the ministry of interior in Gaza, said in a statement.

"But if the region stays engaged, if Egypt's role continues and if the political parties themselves continue to show the willingness they are now showing to work with us on this process, then it can succeed".

On Sunday, Hamdallah chaired a cabinet meeting ahead of the visit to Gaza, and announced committees for crossings, employees and security.

In this respect, the prospective "Hizbullization" of Hamas in Gaza is a major concern, as the Shiite Iranian proxy maintains a death grip on Lebanon, largely due to its military superiority, in contravention of UN Resolution 1701 which set the terms for the end of the 2006 war with Israel, including Hizbullah's total disarmament. The PA does not believe in the legitimacy of Hamas' arms. For him, taking over administrative control of Gaza would solidify his status as the "sole legitimate representative" of the Palestinians.

It ousted Fatah from Gaza the following year after wrangling over the formation of a new government degenerated into bloody clashes.

Mr Ajrami said it is possible, however, that in order to allow the reconciliation to proceed Abbas will agree that the Qassam brigades keep their weapons for now as long as they do not interfere in the working of the PA government or take actions that could cause war with Israel.

Likewise, the greater worldwide community will be hard-pressed to engage with Hamas, as any distinction between its "political" and "military" wings would effectively be nullified, a technicality which Hizbullah uses to operate to some degree on European soil. Hamas is also classified as a terrorist organization by Israel.

The outcome will determine the Palestinians' acceptance on the global stage.



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