Top Fatah Official Arrives in Gaza

A top Fatah official arrived in Gaza on Thursday, to discuss with Hamas leaders, factions and other figures a response to the Israeli prime minister’s speech and implement a reconciliation agreement.

Nabil Shaath’s visit was also intended to move forward on a bid to achieve recognition of statehood from the United Nations in September.

"I am here to confirm that despite what you have heard from Washington, we are adamant about unity and the scrupulous implementation of the terms that will allow complete unity, the reconstruction of Gaza and the establishment of a Palestinian state," said Shaath, a member of Fatah’s central committee.

His remarks came just days after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu publicly urged President Mahmoud Abbas to abandon his agreement with Hamas, during an address to the US Congress.

"I bring a message from Fatah and from Abu Mazen that we are going to apply measures to achieve unity, and neither Netanyahu nor anyone else will prevent it," he said, using Abbas’s nom de guerre.

Shaath confirmed that Abbas would press ahead with a visit to Gaza in what would be his first time back there since Hamas forcibly ousted Fatah forces following a week of bloody battles in June 2007, sparking years of bitter rivalry.

Their recent rapprochement has sparked an angry response from Israel, with Netanyahu vowing his government would never negotiate with a Palestinian administration in which Hamas was a partner.

Abbas delegated Shaath with implementing the reconciliation agreement signed in Cairo.

Shaath is expected to meet with prime minister in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh during the visit.

(Ma’an News – AFP contributed to this report.)

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