Israeli Defense Minister criticizes Hamas, PA reconciliation effort

AFP Palestinian government meets in Gaza for first time since 2014

Hamas ousted the PA from Gaza after bloody street fighting in 2007, but finally agreed last month to its return, under pressure from the territory's powerful neighbour Egypt.

Since 2006 after the massive victory of Hamas in Gaza elections, Hamas and Fatah have been at odds.

The meeting comes as part of moves to end a decade-long split between the internationally recognised Palestinian Authority, based in the occupied West Bank, and Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip.

He said all outstanding administrative issues, including the issue of public employees, would be gradually dealt with in the framework of the 2014 Cairo agreement "within the available resources".

After crossing from Israel into Gaza on Monday Mr hamdallah said: "We return to Gaza for the sake of achieving reconciliation, national unity and ending the division".

Pressuring Hamas to loosen its grip on Gaza, he halted payments for Israeli-supplied electricity to the enclave in June, a step that has led to lengthy, daily blackouts.

Hamas, considered a terrorist by Israel, the United States or the european Union and as infréquentable by some of the arab countries, was forced out of the Gaza strip in 2007 at the price of a quasi-civil war.

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

Due to Hamas' historical ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, who were overthrown in Egypt in 2013, the group has been accused of planning and orchestrating attacks carried out by the IS affiliate Sinai Province against Egyptian security forces in North Sinai, which borders Gaza.

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But key sticking points, primarily Hamas' refusal to disarm its powerful military wing, are likely to complicate or even derail the reconciliation efforts in the coming weeks.

Another cause for wariness on Abbas' part is the role of Egypt's Palestinian protégé, Mohammed Dahlan.

Last month, the group, which is still classed as a terrorist organisation by Israel, the USA and the European Union, disbanded its Gaza shadow government before announcing last week that it was handing over administrative control of Gaza to a unity government headed by Hamdallah.

While administrative control will be handed over, the Hamas government will retain authority over security, a factor that political analysts say is likely to result in the failure of the unity government.

One eve of Gaza reconciliation, Hamas frees Fatah men, October 1, 2017.

Fawzy traveled to Gaza to meet the Palestinian government, following a meeting in Ramallah with Abbas.

The deputy head of Hamas' political wing, Dr. Moussa Abu Marzouk, has said that the group's military wing is not up for discussion.

In response Hamas said Israel was the primary beneficiary of the division.

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

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