Netanyahu Slams Palestinian Unity Push - Vows To Expand Settlements

Thursday, 05 Oct, 2017

The latest development is a major step towards reconciliation with Hamas and simulateously ending the territorial division between the West Bank and Gaza.

Hamdallah also called on Palestinians to unify around the Palestinian leadership and overcome factional differences. Hamas and Fatah have ruled the Gaza Strip and the West Bank respectively ever since, and multiple attempts at reconciliation have since failed for several reasons.

Arriving in the impoverished enclave, Hamdallah said the internationally recognised Palestinian Authority would resume control of Gaza's government in the coming days.

More than two million people live in impoverished Gaza, which has been blockaded by Israel and Egypt for years. "They are not going to settle for symbolic moves - they want the government to start work on the most pressing issues immediately, such as sorting out the problem with electricity".

The decade-long division has also been a key obstacle to peace talks with Israel.

"We are not prepared to accept bogus reconciliations in which the Palestinian side apparently reconciles at the expense of our existence", Netanyahu said during a meeting with his Likud party.

Previous attempts at reconciliation have failed, and there are hard obstacles which still stand in the way.

Hundreds of Palestinians gathered outside the Hamas-controlled checkpoint, down the road from Israel's Erez border crossing through which Rami al-Hamdallah and his delegation passed, to welcome the prime minister. "It is a completely different dynamic on the ground", she told AFP.

Husam Zomlot, the chief representative of the Palestine Liberation Organization's Washington office, said the meetings in Gaza mark a milestone in the Palestinian quest for an independent state.

If this week's visit was about symbolism, next week the details begin.

Hamas officials reject the possibility of disarming.

Even if the two Palestinian factions reconciled, a separate Hamas army would be seen by Israel as unacceptable under any final status agreement. Any insistence on the part of Egypt or Hamas on a substantial role for Dahlan in the governance of Gaza would probably be a red line for Abbas.

For Hamas, the disarming of the Qassam brigades has been a red line.

Despite the rapprochement between Hamas and Fatah, a number of issues are yet to be resolved.

He said Egyptians will be partners not mediators in the process.

Palestinians must disband the Hamas military arm and sever the connection with Iran, which calls for the destruction of Israel, said Netanyahu, who spoke in Maale Adumim, a West Bank settlement where the prime minister said thousands of new apartments will be built.

These conditions are tantamount to the movement dissolving, analysts say.

The session was made possible after Hamas, in a significant concession, agreed last month to turn over all governing responsibilities to Hamdallah.

The PA has signed peace deals with Israel, but Hamas was not party to them and does not recognize Israel's right to exist.

Hamas does not and has not renounced violence.