As Hamas cedes control of crossings to its Fatah-controlled counterpart, Palestinian Authority forces install pro-Abbas and pro-Egyptian banners and decorations.
The Hamas terror group relinquished control over three border crossings in the Gaza Strip to the Palestinian Authority (PA) Wednesday, fulfilling a key stage in the reconciliation agreement recently signed by the two rival factions.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas sent his representatives and staff to the Erez crossing on Gaza’s northern border with Israel, and to the Karem Shalom crossing abutting the Israeli border to the south.
While the Rafah crossing—hitherto tightly controlled by Egypt amid suspicions that Hamas has been providing succor to the Islamic militants wreaking havoc in the Sinai Peninsula—also witnessed the exchange of authority among the Palestinian ranks, it will remain closed while Cairo installs what it sees as fundamental security arrangements.
These include the stationing of pro-Abbas guards, in addition to Egypt beefing up facilities to serve as a bulwark against infiltration by terrorists.
Israel has also maintained a blockade around Gaza crossings, carefully monitoring materials flowing into the enclave fearing that otherwise innocuous materials such as cement could be diverted to more sinister purposes, particularly the expansion of Hamas’s elaborate network of terror tunnels.
PA Minister of Public Works Mufeed Hasayneh praised the handover as “an important step on the path toward reconciliation and an end to the division that went on for ten years.”
The revolving authority was perhaps most conspicuously manifested by Hamas’ swift dismantling of its forts at the crossings, only to be replaced with pro-Abbas and pro-Egyptian decorations, such as giant pictures of the Palestinian President and President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi shaking hands in friendship, which were rapidly hauled up to adorn the entrances.
Despite the seemingly smooth transition as part of the deal which was mediated by Egypt however, Israel has expressed unequivocal disapproval of the notion that it may be required to hold future peace negotiations with the PA while it is aligned with Hamas, a movement recognized by the US as a terror organization and which holds the self-proclaimed goal of eliminating the state of Israel.
Moreover, Palestinian unity has done little to allay US concerns that Hamas still remains committed to retaining arms to wage war on the Israeli army and Israeli civilians.
In a statement written in mid-October, President Donald Trump’s special Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt expressed his support for the PA “to assume full, genuine, and unhindered civil and security responsibilities in Gaza,” but added that Hamas would also need to disarm and recognize Israel if renewed peace talks were to stand any chance of success.
“Any Palestinian government must unambiguously and explicitly commit to nonviolence, recognize the State of Israel, accept previous agreements and obligations between the parties—including to disarm terrorists—and commit to peaceful negotiations,” Greenblatt declared.“If Hamas is to play any role in a Palestinian government, it must accept these basic requirements.”
By: World Israel News Staff