Amid reconciliation efforts, Hamas rejects demand to disarm

Amid reconciliation efforts, Hamas rejects demand to disarm

Amid reconciliation efforts, Hamas rejects demand to disarm

Echoing his prime minister and party leader, Israel's Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan also took a dim view of the Palestinian detente, branding it as a public relations exercise aimed at "laundering" Hamas' "terrorist character".

Hamas last month finally agreed to the PA's return to Gaza, under pressure from the enclave's powerful neighbour Egypt.

Hamas has been more open to working with the Palestinian Authority since Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates imposed an economic boycott on its main donor, Qatar, over its alleged support of terrorism.

The meeting of the government, which is based in the occupied West Bank, comes as part of moves to end a decade-long split between the PA and the Islamist Hamas movement, which runs Gaza.

The Israeli government had previously kept quiet about the latest attempts at reconciliation, announced by Hamas two weeks ago, despite showing strong opposition to any deal in the past. "We expect everyone who talks about a peace process to recognize the State of Israel". "Regarding the weapons of the resistance, as long as there is a Zionist occupation on Palestinian land, it is the right of the Palestinian people to possess weapons and resist the occupation in all of forms of resistance". "If it does, then it's a non-starter for Israel", he said.

However, Haniyeh also claimed that Hamas is ready to discuss reconciliation options with Fatah.

The Israeli prime minister's comments touch on a simmering debate between the rival factions over Hamas' trove of weapons that threatens to imperil the fragile progress towards a comprehensive unity government.

Both factions are expected in Cairo next week for a major conference to cement the reconciliation.

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The recent effort to bridge ties is happening in the backdrop of changing the geopolitical dynamic in the region. The government will try to manage the Gaza Strip, which was under Hamas control for more than 10 years. Critics have alleged that Dahlan is using the leverage of his closeness to Israel and the West in attempting to come back and sideline Abbas. It failed to function in Gaza because of disputes between Hamas and Fatah over its responsibilities.

Mr Abbas's comments, in the face of Hamas insistence that it will continue to bear arms and that this is non-negotiable, dampen hopes that the reconciliation will bear fruit.

"All control needs to be in the hands of the PA", said Abbas.

He added that the Palestinian government would fully and practically implement its administrative responsibilities in the Gaza Strip, according to the order of Abbas.

The people of Palestine are optimistic but careful.

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

Afterwards government spokesman Yusuf Al Mahmud said a full reconciliation deal would take time.

"Without Palestinian unity, there is no Palestinian state", said Abbas.

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