Report: Palestinian unity deal in jeopardy, handover of Gaza to Fatah delayed

As negotiations between PA president Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah faction and the Hamas terrorist organization grind to a halt, administrative control of the Gaza Strip has been postponed.

By: Margot Dudkevitch, World Israel News

The handover of control of the Gaza Strip from Hamas to Fatah appears to be in jeopardy, after the factions agreed to postpone the move. The decision occurred some 48 hours before the deadline of an Egyptian-brokered reconciliation “unity” deal, with officials from both factions accusing each other of failing to respect the accord, AFP reported.

Fayez Abu Eita a spokesman for Fatah in Gaza, claimed the decision to postpone the move that was to have taken place on December 1, 2017, was in the interest of “achieving the goals of our people, achieving reconciliation and ending the division.” A statement issued by Hamas, said the decision was made in order to “ensure the completion of reconciliation steps.”

Last month’s Cairo-brokered deal called for Hamas to transfer all governing duties to the Palestinian Authority’s Fatah by December 1. On Wednesday, Fatah negotiator Azzam al-Ahmad accused Hamas of failing to honor the agreement, AFP reported. Similar comments were made by Hamas officials.

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According to media reports, a number of disagreements between the sides remain, including the fate of public employees in Gaza and security control of the Gaza Strip. According to the Palestinian Maan News Agency, the fate of some 40,000 civil servants hired by Hamas when it seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, ousting some 7,000 Palestinian Authority employees, remains unclear.

According to the Palestinian news site, in April this year, Ramallah cut the salaries of the Hamas employed civil servants up to 30 percent, one of a number of punitive measures against Hamas aimed at pressuring it to relinquish control of the Gaza enclave. Earlier this month the Palestinian Authority took over administrative control of the Gaza border crossings as part of the continued transfer of power from Hamas to the Palestinian unity government, Maan said.

The official Palestinian news agency WAFA said Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has ordered an immediate halt to public statements concerning the reconciliation deal, “for the sake of the Palestinian national interest and our relationship with our Egyptian brothers.”

Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007 in a bloody coup, leaving the Palestinians with two separate administrations, Hamas controlling the Gaza Strip and Fatah in control of the West Bank. In the past decade, multiple reconciliation efforts have failed to unify the two factions.