Israeli leaders: Hamas must disarm, or reconciliation means nothing

Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah shakes hands with Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza City on October 2

Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah shakes hands with Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza City on October 2

Palestinian rival factions Hamas and Fatah have reached a deal over political reconciliation, Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh said in a statement on Thursday without providing further details.

Egypt has previously attempted to help Hamas and Fatah create a united government for Gaza and the West Bank.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi said on Sunday the Egypt-backed reconciliation talks between the PA and Hamas are "preparation" for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. Since then, attempts to reconcile the two groups and form a Palestinian power-sharing government have stalled.

Fatah official said the Palestinian president is planning to visit Gaza Strip within a month as part of the unity bid in what would be his first visit in a decade.

Two weeks before this, another meeting will be held in Cairo (on November 14) between representatives of all Palestinian factions, the same source said, adding that this meeting would discuss "mechanisms" for implementing the reconciliation agreement.

At a press conference, head of the PA delegation Azzam al-Ahmad said the two sides agreed that the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza would be operated by the presidential guards of PA president Mahmoud Abbas by November 1. A small number of people, mainly medical patients, business people and aid workers, use the Erez crossing to enter Israel, usually bound for the West Bank.

Hamas suggested in a new political manifesto earlier this year that it might consider a state in pre-1967 lines as an interim option, but also endorses an Islamic state in historic Palestine, including what is now Israel.

Struggling with the fallout from the border blockade, Hamas has found it increasingly hard to govern or provide basic services, such as electricity.

The two sides remain sharply at odds, however, over the future of Hamas's 25,000-strong armed wing, which the terror group says is nonnegotiable.

Al-Ahmed highly appreciated the Egyptian role and keenness to achieve Palestinian reconciliation, stressing that Egypt is the sponsor of the Arab national security, including the Palestinian security.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote on Facebook that any reconciliation deal must make Hamas disarm and "end its war to destroy Israel".

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