Hamdallah visits Gaza to begin reunification with Ramallah

Hamdallah visits Gaza to begin reunification with Ramallah”

"The only way to statehood is through unity", Mr Hamdallah said after arriving in a 30-vehicle motorcade through the Erez border crossing separating Israel and Gaza.

Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah arrived in Gaza on Monday to flag-waving crowds. "We hope this time reconciliation is for real".

Hamas's reversal was the most significant step toward Palestinian unity since the government was formed in 2014, as it failed to function in Gaza specially with the growing electricity and water crisis.

The Palestinian Authority's premier received a warm welcome during his visit to the Gaza Strip as his ministers are set to take over governing responsibilities there.

The two factions are expected to travel this month to the Egyptian capital to continue national reconciliation negotiations even as governmental responsibilities in Gaza are being handed over to the Palestinian Authority.

The Press Trust of India and Jerusalem Post reported that Hamdallah was greeted by supporters in Gaza.

"Everything must be in the hands of the Palestinian Authority, it must be the one to control the crossing points [in and out of Gaza]", he said, adding that there could be only one regime setting laws and enforcing them.

Analysts said narrowing internal divisions could help Western-backed President Mahmoud Abbas counter Israel's argument that it has no negotiating partner for peace.

Palestinian PM Rami al-Hamdallah is surrounded by security during his visit to Gaza City.

Rami Hamdallah is heading a delegation from the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority, which is taking over from an administration disbanded by Hamas.

"It is a celebration, a national holiday", said Abdel-Majid Ali, 46.

Mr Hamdallah later met Hamas political leader Ismail Haniya and its Gaza chief Yahya Sinwar.

The UN's Middle East envoy, Nickolay Mladenov, said he was "carefully optimistic" that Hamas and Fatah could progress toward full reconciliation.

Since then, Hamas has fought devastating wars with neighboring Israel and overseen increasing poverty in the overcrowded territory as a result of an Israeli-Egyptian blockade. Hamas captured the coastal strip by violently overthrowing forces loyal to Fatah, led by Abbas.

Dahlan, based since 2011 in the United Arab Emirates, is behind an influx of cash to prop up Gaza and detente between Hamas and Arab states including Egypt, which hosted reconciliation talks. But hard negotiations lie ahead, and key sticking points, particularly who will control Hamas's vast weapons arsenal, could easily derail the effort.

"We are confidence that the atmosphere of understandings and positivity are dominating and we are looking for more serious work with all powers and factions and institutions to rescue our beloved people in Gaza", he said.

Washington gave a cautious welcome to the PA's return to Gaza, while stressing that any new Palestinian government would have to renounce violence and recognise Israel.

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