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Palestinian Prime Minister to visit Gaza next week

Rami Hamdallah and Mahmoud Abbas [AFP]

Date of publication: 26 September, 2017

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Hamas welcomed Hamdallah's announcement on Monday, and the United Nations offered to help mediate
Palestinian prime minister Rami Hamdallah says he will travel from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip next week in a step toward reconciliation with the rival Hamas group.

A spokesman for Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah says he will convene his Cabinet in Gaza next Tuesday.

Hamas has controlled Gaza since ousting Fatah-led forces of the Palestinian Authority in 2007.

The takeover has left the Palestinians torn between two governments, with President Mahmoud Abbas' Palestinian Authority (PA) in charge of autonomous areas of the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Reconciliation attempts have repeatedly failed.

Hamas welcomed Hamdallah's announcement on Monday, and the United Nations offered to help mediate.

This comes after Hamas dissolved its administration that runs the besieged Gaza Strip and is now agreeing to hold general elections, the movement announced on Sunday.

Hamas said in a statement earlier this month that it has dissolved its shadow government and that it will allow the so-called unity government to operate in Gaza. The group added that it woud agree to elections and enter talks with rival group Fatah.

 

The PA, led by Abbas, whose presidency expired in 2009 runs the authority located in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, but it has had no control in Gaza for a decade.

Hamdallah has not visited the beseiged enclave since 2015, and a previous attempt at a unity government fell apart that year, with the two sides exchanging blame.

In April, the PA started to end energy payments to Israel for Gaza, causing frequent power cuts in the besieged territory and severe pressure on regional hospitals.

The World Health Organisation warned in June that the blackouts threatened Gaza's health service provision and placed people's lives at real risk.

He also reduced the salaries of some employees in Gaza, while the number of Gazans receiving PA permits to travel for medical care has declined.

The Independent Commission for Human Rights, based in the West Bank, called such measures to be reversed after Hamas dissolved the so-called administrative committee, seen as a rival government and created in March.

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