Middle East

Palestinian reconciliation hits ‘obstacles’ on deadline, says Fatah

Palestinians celebrate after Hamas said it reached a deal with Palestinian rival Fatah (AFP)

A planned handover of power in Gaza from Hamas to the Palestinian Authority under a landmark reconciliation accord hit "obstacles" on Sunday's deadline to do so, a top official said.

Islamist movement Hamas was originally due to transfer power in the enclave on 1 December under the reconciliation agreement with rival faction Fatah, but that deadline was initially put back by 10 days.

Hamas said at the weekend that it was handing over all government ministries to the Palestinian Authority, but Fatah's top negotiator said that was not yet the case.

"There have been obstacles today," Azzam al-Ahmad said in a statement on Sunday published on official news agency WAFA.

"I hope they will be resolved before this evening so our people will feel that their national factions are honest with what they agreed on and pledged."

Ahmad said that, after the handover takes place, a meeting would be held in Cairo – Egypt mediated the reconciliation deal – to discuss next steps.

The reconciliation deal reached in October is aimed at ending a 10-year feud between Hamas and Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas's Fatah, based in the occupied West Bank.

The handover would end Hamas's long dominance of the blockaded Gaza Strip and has raised hopes that deteriorating humanitarian conditions in the territory could be addressed.

A range of complex issues remains to be resolved, including security control of Gaza and the fate of two separate civil administrations.

Unrest over US President Donald Trump's declaration of Jerusalem as Israel's capital has further complicated the process.

Clashes and protests have erupted in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza since Trump's declaration on Wednesday.

Original Article

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