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Palestinian officials begin transferring control of Gaza borders from Hamas to Fatah

Oct. 17, 2017 1:05 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 18, 2017 12:14 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Head of the Palestinian Authority (PA) borders and crossing committee Nathmi Muhanna arrived in the Gaza Strip on Monday in order “to carry out the first article of the reconciliation agreement signed in Cairo regarding taking over the crossings,” Muhanna told Ma’an.

Muhanna entered Gaza through the Israeli-controlled Erez crossing, and was welcomed by the Palestinian Minister of Public Work Housing Mufid al-Hasayna.

Upon his arrival in Gaza, Muhanna told Ma'an that a committee to oversee the takeover of Gaza border crossings by the Fatah-led PA was formed upon instructions by President Mahmoud Abbas.

In the reconciliation agreement signed last week by Hamas and Fatah, it was reportedlty agreed that the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza would be operated by PA presidential guards by November 1.

Muhanna stressed the importance of the PA “carrying out its duties” at all of Gaza’s crossings including Rafah, Kerem Shalom and Erez.

He added that he hoped his visit could “open the way for enabling the government and all its ministers and institutions to bring back the Gaza Strip” to how it was prior to the violent split between Hamas and Fatah in 2007, after Hamas’ 2006 victory in general elections held in Gaza.

Commenting on a timeline for when control of the crossings would be transferred from Hamas to the PA, Muhanna told Ma’an that the handover would officially begin on Monday.

After the reconciliation deal was signed, the Egyptian government called for a meeting between the factions in Cairo on November 21 to discuss the next steps in implementing the agreement.

According to Israeli news daily Haaretz, Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said that "the next phase of reconciliation will be a meeting of representatives of all the Palestinian factions in Cairo to discuss the major national issues - such as Hamas's military wing, the issue of weapons and political positions.”

Numerous attempts have been made in the past to reconcile Hamas and Fatah since they came into violent conflict in 2007.

In addition to resolving the issue of public employees and Hamas’ military wing, Hamas and Fatah plan to pave the way for legislative elections for the unity government that would rule both the occupied West Bank and Gaza.

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