Hamas, Fatah Agree Palestinian Authority to Take Control of Gaza

Hamas has agreed to the establishment of a Palestinian state within the '67 borders, Fatah negotiator says.

Jack Khoury
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Chief Palestinian negotiator Azzam al-Ahmad (C-L) of the mainstream Fatah movement shakes hands with Hamas deputy leader Musa Abu Marzouk, September 24, 2014.
Chief Palestinian negotiator Azzam al-Ahmad (C-L) of the mainstream Fatah movement shakes hands with Hamas deputy leader Musa Abu Marzouk, September 24, 2014.Credit: AFP
Jack Khoury

Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah reached an agreement on Thursday by which the Palestinian Authority will take control over the Gaza Strip. The deal also includes Hamas' consent for a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, according to a Fatah official.

Hassin Alsheikh, a negotiator on the Fatah team, told Haaretz that the Palestinian Authority will take responsibility for the reconstruction of the Strip as well as for manning the Gaza crossings "effective immediately."

He added that Hamas also agreed to support Palestinian President Abbas' plan for establishing a state within the '67 borders.

Hamas' negotiator Musa Abu Marzouk and Fatah's Azzam Ahmed told reporters at a joint press conference in Cairo that the factions agreed to promote any decision that will aid the Palestinian unity government, and that a joint committee will supervise the agreement's implementation and will rule on any disagreement.

Officials from the rival groups were meeting in Cairo to try to overcome their differences and strengthen their hand for talks with Israel slated for late next month.

For Abbas, the announcement of reconciliation between the factions and the resumption of Palestinian Authority control of Gaza will promote his cause vis-à-vis the international community, especially those nations which donate funds to the Palestinian Authority. These convened in New York earlier this week, and are expected to reconvene in Cairo on October 12, ahead of the renewal of cease-fire talks with Israel.

The Gaza ceasefire struck in August between Israel and the Palestinians included stipulations that the Palestinian Authority, led by Abbas, should take over civil administration in Gaza from Hamas.

But a dispute over the Palestinian Authority's non-payment of salaries to Gaza's public sector workers brought tensions between the two main Palestinian factions to near-breaking point.

"All civil servants will be paid by the unity government because they are all Palestinians and it is the government of all Palestinians," said Azzam Ahmed of Abbas' Fatah movement.

Abu Marzouk, chairman of Hamas' political bureau, said control of Gaza's border crossings, another contentious issue, would lie with the United Nations in addition to the unity government.

"The United Nations will come to an agreement with Israel and the unity government on how to run the crossings," Marzouk said. He added that Rafah border crossing with Egypt was not part of the talks.

The timing of the agreement's announcement is not accidental, and serves the interests of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who is slated to address the UN General Assembly on Friday. Abbas is expected to present the Assembly with his diplomatic plan, based on ending the Israeli occupation within three years and establishing a Palestinian state within the 67' borders.

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