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Palestinian Cabinet meets in Gaza in reconciliatory move

05 October 2017

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah chairs a cabinet meeting for the first time since 2014 in Gaza City, October 3, 2017. And looking for a job outside Gaza is nearly impossible, given that the Gaza Strip has been sealed off by Israel and Egypt for over a decade.

Due to Hamas' historical ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, who were overthrown in Egypt in 2013, the group has been accused of planning and orchestrating attacks carried out by the IS affiliate Sinai Province against Egyptian security forces in North Sinai, which borders Gaza.

The holding of this council of ministers is to illustrate the progress of the reconciliation between the palestinian Authority and the islamist Hamas movement after a decade of strife devastating.

The terror group Hamas has ruled Gaza since a violent overthrow of the Palestinian Authority in 2007, but last month agreed to hand over civilian rule after Egyptian mediation.

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Hamdallah is heading up a 100-strong delegation of ministers and officials in preparation for officially assuming political and administrative control of the strip. "Abu Mazen (Abbas) says that he won't go along with a Lebanese model, he says that if the PA provides the civil service it will also control the region".

Although the reconciliation talks are viewed as a positive step towards Palestinian unity, they have already experienced their first sign of trouble.

"The division cripples the Palestinians from being able to move forward in a constructive manner in achieving the goal of returning back to negotiations and implementing a two-state solution", UN Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov told AFP.

"Haniya said, during the meeting with Fawzi, that his movement wants to start a "new page" with Egypt to advance new strategic relations". Whoever wants to make such a reconciliation, our understanding is very clear: Recognize the State of Israel, disband the Hamas military arm, sever the connection with Iran, which calls for our destruction, and so on and so forth.

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Yesterday Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tried to put conditions on the peace deal, telling a meeting of his Likud party: "We are not prepared to accept bogus the expense of our existence". There would be "one state, one system, one law and one weapon", he said.

Gaza and the West Bank are supposed to form a future independent state but internationally recognised president Mahmud Abbas, long the negotiating partner for Israel, has been undermined by Hamas' control of Gaza.

"We shall build here thousands of housing units" and add industrial zones, Netanyahu said during a visit to the Maaleh Adumim settlement of 37,000 people.

The position is something of a catch 22 for the Palestinians, as Israeli officials dismiss the idea of Palestinian statehood because the Palestinians aren't unified, but when they get unified, Israel sees that too as proof the Palestinians aren't serious about peace.

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Palestinian Cabinet meets in Gaza in reconciliatory move