Palestinian Authority and Egyptian officials on Sunday have begun to enter the Gaza Strip from the Israeli and Egyptian border crossings, in advance of the Hamas handing over control to the Mahmoud Abbas government, Ma’an reported. The Egyptian delegation was led by Egypt’s ambassador to israel Hazem Khairat. It was later received by Hamas boss Ismail Haniyeh.
The Gaza-born PA Minister of Culture Ehab Bseiso, who came in via Israel from Ramallah, told reporters that “the national reconciliation government will overcome all obstacles toward unity.”
According to a spokesman for Gaza’s Interior Ministry, the Hamas security services in Gaza have prepared for the arrival of PA ministers and their entourages of hundreds, most of whom plan to arrive on Monday.
Hamas released five PLO prisoners on Sunday as a gesture to the arriving PA guests.
PA prime Minister Rami Hamdallah will arrive on Tuesday to hold the first PA weekly cabinet meeting in the Gaza Strip since 2007, following which the delegations will head to Cairo to hold the reconciliation forum.
On Saturday evening, Haniyeh released a statement saying, “The reconciliation is a will and a decision, to prevent Israel from swallowing up the West Bank and continuing its siege of the Gaza Strip.”
Haniyeh said, “We understand that the inner-Palestinian reconciliation process could be long, because of the setbacks along the way, and the fact that there are many issues that require brave decisions, but we are certain that we have started tearing down the wall of separation. We are in a situation of national, regional, and international changes in addition to the strong Egyptian backing which supports the end of the rift.”
According to the London-based Al-Hayat, Abbas has three conditions for reconciliation: Hamas must dismantle its military wing; there is to be no foreign involvement in the administration of the Gaza Strip; and money donated for restoration and development may only be paid out to the Palestinian government.