Hamas says ready for Palestinian unity, to hold fresh elections

Hamas said on Sunday it had agreed to steps towards resolving a decade-long split with Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas’s Fatah, announcing it would dissolve a body seen as a rival government and was ready to hold elections.
The statement comes after Hamas leaders held talks with Egyptian officials last week, and with the Gaza Strip run by the Palestinian movement facing a mounting humanitarian crisis. Hamas said it had agreed to key demands made by Fatah: dissolving the so-called “administrative committee” created in March, while saying it was ready for elections and negotiations towards a unity government.
It called on the Palestinian Authority government based in the Israeli-occupied West Bank “to come to Gaza to exercise its functions and carry out its duties immediately”.
Hamas chief Ismail Haniya agreed to take such steps in talks with Egyptian officials in Cairo last week, a Hamas official has said.
It was unclear, however, whether the steps would result in further concrete action towards ending the deep division with Fatah.
Hamas for now continues to run a de facto separate administration in the Gaza Strip and is in charge of the security forces there.
Abbas’s Fatah welcomed the announcement, saying it followed “extensive meetings” between its own representatives and Egyptian intelligence officials.
Fatah official Azzam al Ahmad said a bilateral meeting with Hamas would be organised to begin working out a way forward.
“There will be tangible practical steps in the next few days, starting with the Palestinian national unity government resuming its work according to law in Gaza as it does in the West Bank, in order to continue its efforts to relieve the suffering of our people in the strip and work towards lifting the unjust blockade,” Ahmad told official Palestinian news
agency Wafa.
The Gaza Strip has been under an Israeli blockade for around a decade, while its border with Egypt has also remained largely closed in recent years.
Abbas is currently in New York for the UN General Assembly meeting, where he is set to speak on Wednesday.
UN Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov said: “I welcome the recent statement by Hamas announcing the dissolving of the administrative committee in Gaza and agreement to allow the government of national consensus to assume its responsibilities in Gaza.” — AFP