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Hamas says ready to hand Gaza to a Palestinian unity government

Hamas says ready to hand Gaza to a Palestinian unity government
From Reuters - September 17, 2017

CAIRO/RAMALLAH (Reuters) - Hamas has agreed to dismantle the administration that runs Gaza, it said on Sunday, a major step toward handing control of the Palestinian enclave to a unity government after a decade of bitter rivalry with President Mahmoud Abbas.

The Islamist group, which has ruled Gaza since a brief Palestinian civil war in 2007, said it had taken a courageous, serious and patriotic decision to dissolve the administrative committee that runs the territory of 2 million people, and hand power to some form of unity government.

Reunification a decade after Hamas and Abbass Fatah movement battled for control of Gaza may hinge on whether complex issues related to power-sharing - which stymied reconciliation bids in the past - can be resolved.

The Fatah-led government, based in the West Bank, hailed the move, announced after Egyptian mediation, as a step in the right direction. Cairos efforts had presented a historic opportunity that could lead to a new Palestinian election and ultimately statehood, a spokesman told the official news agency WAFA.

But Fatah said it still needed clarification from Hamas on the handing over of government ministries in Gaza and control of the enclaves border crossings with Israel and Egypt.

Hamas and Fatah agreed in 2014 to form a national reconciliation administration but could not agree on the details. A unity government formed after Hamas won the last Palestinian general election, in 2006, was short-lived.

Aiming to pressure Hamas to relinquish control of Gaza, Abbas cut payments to Israel for the electricity it supplies to the enclave, leading to power provided for less than four hours on some days, and never more than six hours a day.

Azzam Al-Ahmad, who headed Fatahs delegation to the talks in Cairo, told WAFA: This step will enhance the unity of the Palestinians and end ugly division.

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