PA ‘Ready to Undertake Responsibilities in Gaza’

PA President Mahmoud Abbas (R) with top Hamas leaders in Qatar. (Photo: WAFA, file)

The Palestinian Authority is prepared to undertake its responsibilities in the Gaza Strip, the PA cabinet announced following its weekly meeting on Tuesday, days after Hamas, the de facto ruling party in Gaza, pledged to dissolve its administrative committee that runs the besieged coastal enclave.

The cabinet, headed by Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, affirmed that the PA government has “prepared plans to handle all aspects of life in the Gaza Strip and will carry out its duties towards Palestinians in Gaza and lessen their suffering.”

The Hamas movement announced Sunday it has dissolved its administrative committee – formed earlier this year to the outrage of the PA, agrees to hold general elections for the first time since 2006, enter talks with Fatah, and allow the national reconciliation government to operate in Gaza.

Hamas said the decision came in response to recent diplomatic efforts by Egypt to reconcile the rival factions, while PA President Mahmoud Abbas has been calling on Hamas to relinquish control of the small territory to the PA.

PA presidential advisor for international affairs, Nabil Shaath, said Monday that he expects that Hamdallah will travel to Gaza in the coming few days and that “he will be treated with respect and full cooperation from Hamas, which has been ruling the Gaza Strip since its 2007 coup against the Palestinian Authority,” PA-owned Wafa news agency said in a report.

“Once Hamdallah is in Gaza and his government starts to run the various departments, the next step would be meetings between Fatah and Hamas along with other political factions to start laying out the ground rules to actual reunification and resolving all outstanding issues,” the report said.

The PA official however said the 2011 reconciliation agreement “had full details in dealing with all issues, including the staff Hamas has hired to run the Gaza institutions following the boycott by the Palestinian Authority employees, and that all that is expected to be done is how to start enforcing it on the ground,” according to Wafa.

“This may take some time, he said, but at least the Hamdallah government will be in charge in Gaza and will be working on bridging the administrative gap between the two parts of the Palestinian territories – the West Bank and Gaza Strip,” the report concluded.

In recent months, the PA has been accused of deliberately sending the impoverished Gaza Strip further into a humanitarian catastrophe – by slashing funding for Israeli fuel, medicine, and salaries for civil servants and former prisoners – in order to pressure Hamas to give up control of Gaza.

At a press conference at the Rafah border crossing later Tuesday evening, head of Hamas’ politburo Ismail Haniyeh said, “We did not only issue a statement and announce that the administrative committee is dissolved, but we took de facto actions and the administrative committee is no longer operating.”

“We are prepared to welcome the national consensus government to enter Gaza and we are ready to go back to Cairo to continue talks between Fatah and Hamas in preparation for comprehensive national dialogue,” he said.

(Ma’an, PC, Social Media)

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