Hamas Agrees To Demands To End Decade-Long Palestinian Rift

Hamas agrees to hand over Gaza to Abbas government

Hamas paves way for Palestinian elections as it signals readiness to end Fatah feud

Rival Hamas movement and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Fatah Party agreed on Sunday to reconcile, form a unity government soon and prepare for the general parliamentary and presidential elections, an official Hamas statement said.

The Hamas movement said in a press statement that the announcement comes in response to the Egyptian efforts, led by the Egyptian General Intelligence Service, out of an Egyptian concern for achieving Palestinian reconciliation and ending the division.

Badran also pointed out that his movement's delegation had postponed its departure from Cairo, granting Egyptian officials the chance to convince the Fatah movement to hold serious talks.

Hamas is under growing financial pressure as Egypt has destroyed numerous smuggling tunnels Hamas used previously, and Abbas has turned up the screws on the rival Hamas by refusing to pay for electricity in Gaza, and cutting salaries for civil servants.

Other points included the establishment of joint monitoring of border posts and the absorption of Hamas security personnel into the new police force that is to be formed.

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Egypt recently invited top Hamas officials to Cairo for reconciliation discussions, and last week, Abbas sent a delegation of representatives to Egypt as well. However, the movement wants to hold an expanded conference for Palestinian factions to form a national unity government.

In July this year it emerged Gaza's Hamas movement was seeking a rapprochement with the Palestinian leader once regarded as its greatest enemy, as the Islamist group faces unprecedented challenges from all sides. At the end of the war, Hamas and Fatah disagreed on whether the consensus government should pay the salaries of 42,000 Hamas employees or not. However, the PA was ultimately given a limited mandate as a Hamas shadow government continued to control most of Gaza's government institutions.

The Hamas delegation was about to leave Egypt when authorities asked them to stay, hoping that a meeting will be held with Fatah, even though head of the Hamas delegation said that they will not meet with their rivals.

Bjorn Brenner, the author of Gaza Under Hamas, said that Hamas agreed to disband its administrative committee because it has come under the pressure to deliver to the people of Gaza.

"Hamas wants to improve the situation in Gaza, but it doesn't want to give up control of it", Bjorn said. There was no immediate comment from Abbas's government, and a senior Palestinian official was guarded in his optimism.

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