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UN envoy: conflict likely if Fatah-Hamas reconciliation fails

Hamas are supposed to hand full control of Gaza to the PA by December [TNA]

Date of publication: 21 November, 2017

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Nickolay Mladenov told the UN Security Council on Monday that another intra-Palestinian conflict could break out if the reconciliation talks between Fatah and Hamas fail

Reconciliation talks between Palestinian rivals Fatah and Hamas must succeed said the UN Middle East envoy, warning that failure "will most likely result in another devastating conflict."

Nickolay Mladenov told the UN Security Council on Monday that "critical intra-Palestinian talks" are scheduled to open in Cairo on Tuesday.

He said the October 12 agreement between the rivals, aimed at restoring the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority's rule in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, started "a long road that could lead to reconciliation."

But he said the rival factions must first solve the humanitarian crisis for Gaza's two million residents and return the territory to full civilian and security control by the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Tuesday's talks are expected to focus on the Palestinian Authority's expansion of its rule in Gaza.

Under the agreement, Hamas are supposed to hand full control of Gaza to the PA by December 1.

Palestinians entered a near civil war in 2007 when Islamist Hamas party attempted to take control of Gaza from the PA, causing deadly street fights.

The conflict left 500 Palestinians dead.

The agreement signed in Cairo does not specify the future for Hamas's vast armed wing, the Izz al-din al-Qassam Brigades. Hamas has so far refused  to disarm.

"The resistance's weapons are legal. They are here to protect Palestinians and free their lands [from the Israeli occupation] - therefore, this should not be an issue to discuss," Hamas spokesperson Hazem Qassem said last month.

On November 1, Hamas handed over control of border crossings in a first key test.

But in a sign of tension, Palestinian prime minister Rami Hamdallah said on Tuesday the PA still did not have full control of the crossings, with Hamas dominating the police and security inside Gaza.

Hamas rejected that, with a statement saying it had fully transferred power.

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