Hamas must disarm, recognise Israel under Palestinian unity deal

Haniyeh Hamdallah

Since early this week, Egypt's capital has hosted direct meetings of emissaries from two factions, which ended in signing the agreement.

The deal envisages that the national unity government will have full powers in all Palestinian territories - in the West Bank and Gaza - by December 1.

Hamas and Fatah agreed in 2014 to form a national reconciliation government, but the deal soon dissipated in mutual recriminations with Hamas continuing to dominate Gaza.

With Hamas in control, conditions in Gaza deteriorated.

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Fatah officials said the two sides agreed that the Palestinian Authority would take over responsibility for Gaza's border crossings no later than November 1 and that full governing responsibilities would be handed over to the Palestinian Authority by the beginning of December.

The Western-backed mainstream Fatah party lost control of Gaza to Hamas in fighting in 2007.

Security cooperation between Fatah and Hamas could include, among other things, the deployment of 3,000 Fatah security officers, who would join the Gaza police force over a period of 12 months. Abbas has said he would not take over Gaza until Hamas gave up its weapons.

Multiple previous attempts at reconciliation have failed but the latest Egyptian-led push received a major boost last month when Hamas agreed to cede civil power in Gaza. A small number of people, mainly medical patients, business people and aid workers, use the Erez crossing to enter Israel, usually bound for the West Bank.

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There was no indication that an understanding had been reached on the fate of Hamas's armed wing, a sticking point which analysts have said could yet scupper reconciliation efforts.

Faced with increasing isolation and a severe electricity shortage, Hamas has reached out to Cairo for help, hoping to have the Rafah border with Egypt opened.

Hamas does not recognise Israel and has fought three wars with the Jewish state since 2008.

Ahead of the negotiations in Cairo, Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu warned against "fake reconciliations" and stated once again that Israel demands the demilitarization of Hamas.

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