Hamas Accepts PA Reconciliation Demands to Dissolve Gaza Administration, Hold Elections

Hamas paves way for Palestinian elections as it signals readiness to end Fatah feud

Egypt has welcomed new steps taken by Palestinian Islamist group Hamas and President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement to build Palestinian unity, the result of Cairo's efforts to end the long-running feud, Egypt's state-run news agency MENA reported on Sunday.

Hamas announced the dissolution of the administrative committee created in March 2016 to manage the territory and invited the consensus government led by Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah to arrive in the Gaza Strip to carry out the mission, an official statement said. This latest effort comes at a time when Gaza's economy is a shambles, battered by an Israeli and Egyptian blockade, three wars with Israel, and Abbas's decision earlier this year to reduce funding for electricity in an effort to put additional pressure on Hamas.

Hamas ousted the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority from Gaza in 2007 and Fatah continued to oversee the West Bank.

Reunification a decade after Hamas and Mr Abbas's Fatah movement battled for control of Gaza may hinge on whether complex issues related to power-sharing - which stymied reconciliation bids in the past - can be resolved.

The Gaza Strip's militant Hamas rulers said they were ready to take key steps meant to allow the reunification of the rival Palestinian governments.

Some polls show that if parliamentary elections were held now, Hamas would win them in both Gaza and the Israeli-occupied West Bank, the seat of Abbas's Palestinian Authority.

"The Hamas movement is prepared to overcome all of the obstacles together with the Egyptians in order to achieve the Palestinian people's aspirations through the reconciliation and unity".

"Hamas agreed to start the dialogue with Fatah movement on the formation of a Palestinian unity government in the framework of a comprehensive dialogue that includes other Palestinian factions and political powers who also signed in 2011 Cairo agreement", said the Hamas statement.

"We need to see that the government of national accord is functioning in Gaza and that the (administrative) committee is actually dissolved", Ashrawi told CNN.

"If the news is correct, that is good and positive", Fatah Vice Chairman Mahmoud al-Aloul said in a statement posted on Fatah's official Facebook page.

A key sticking point in the past was Hamas' refusal to place its security forces in Gaza under the control of an Abbas-led unity government.

Punishing measures included reducing electricity payments for the Gaza strip and cutting salaries for civil servants there.