Hamas and Fatah have asked Egypt to delay the transfer of responsibility for Gaza to the Palestinian Authority (PA), which was set to take place today, under an agreement signed by the two rival factions in Cairo in October.
The transfer of responsibility will now be scheduled for ten days time, where the PA will take full responsibility for the Gaza Strip from Hamas. Hamas has been the ruler of Gaza since 2007, after it violently seized control of the enclave from Fatah, PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s party.
Hamas is designated as a terrorist organisation by the US, the EU, Canada, and Israel.
Fayez Abu Eitah, a Gaza based Fatah official said, reading a joint Hamas-Fatah statement: “Hamas and Fatah requested that the Egyptian brothers postpone the completion of the government’s takeover of its responsibilities in the Strip…from December 1 to December 10. This is to complete the arrangements to guarantee the achievement of reconciliation”.
The statement came after a meeting between Hamas, Fatah, PA and Egyptian officials in Gaza.
According to PA Civil Affairs Minister Hussein al-Sheikh, since Hamas and Fatah signed the mid-October agreement, Hamas has barely enabled the PA to take responsibility for Gaza. “We have not surpassed the 5% [marker] on the issue of empowering the government [in Gaza],” Sheikh told PA television on Saturday.
Under the terms of the unity agreement, the PA will take control of the Gaza-Israel crossings and the Palestinian presidential guard will take control of the Gaza-Egypt crossing (Rafah), with European observers stationed there to prevent arms smuggling.