Palestinian PM Vows to Take Full Responsibility for Gaza

Palestinian cabinet meets in Gaza for the first time in three years

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah chairs a reconciliation government cabinet meeting in Gaza  on Tuesday.
MOHAMMED ABED/AFP

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami al-Hamdallah said his government is determined to take full responsibility for the Gaza Strip without any exceptions. Hamdallah made his remarks at the beginning of the first meeting in three years of the Palestinian cabinet in Gaza on Tuesday.

All the issues under disagreement between the Fatah movement and Hamas will be dealt with according to the principles and understandings reached in the reconciliation agreement reached in Cairo in 2011, said Hamdallah.

Hamdallah said his government will hold talks and cooperate with all the relevant groups, and emphasized the central role Egypt is playing in implementing the reconciliation. He called on the international community to intervene and put pressure on Israel to end the blockade on the Gaza Strip.

At the end of the meeting, the ministers went to their various ministries in Gaza for meetings with senior officials to begin preparing operative plans. Hamdallah instructed ministers to prepare reports on the immediate needs in Gaza to improve life for residents as soon as possible, said a Palestinian Authority government spokesman.

The meeting of the Palestinian cabinet in Gaza was a step toward reconciliation between the mainstream Fatah party and Islamist Hamas group that rules Gaza. Hamas seized the coastal enclave in 2007 in fighting with Fatah forces loyal to Abbas.

Hamdallah arrived in the Gaza Strip on Monday with government ministers and dozens of senior Palestinian Authority officials, along with intelligence and security officials. The meeting is part of an effort to implement a reconciliation agreement between the PA and Hamas.

The reconciliation process, which is beginning with the cabinet session, was promoted by Egypt and other U.S.-allied Arab countries.

Delegations from both Hamas and Fatah will head to Cairo next week for talks on implementing the agreement. Senior officials on both sides described the meetings next week as very significant because they will provide a clearer picture as to whether a reconciliation agreement can be realized.

The first test of the reconciliation and the functioning of the government in Gaza concerns the management of the crossings into Israel and Egypt, said Civil Affairs Minister Hussein al-Sheikh, a member of the Fatah central committee.  Other issues still in dispute will be discussed next week in Cairo. “In the end we will get to the difficult issues and principles,” he said.

Hamas, considered a terrorist group by Israel and the West, last month disbanded its Gaza shadow government, after Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates imposed an economic boycott on its main donor, Qatar.