Palestinian rivals head to Cairo for reconciliation talks

The Hamas military branch in Gaza

Last week, Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah held his first cabinet meeting in Gaza since the unity government was drawn up in 2014, in a major step towards Palestinian reconciliation.

Hamas has elected senior group member Saleh al-Arouri, a man best known for orchestrating a lethal triple kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers, as deputy chief of its influential Political Bureau, The Jerusalem Post reported Friday. "I'm proud of the security checkers, who operated exactly as is expected of them, beginning with identifying the truck as suspect and ending with checking the shipment and uncovering the smuggling attempt", said Ami Shaked, the head of the Kerem Shalom Crossing Authority. Also, weapons should only be in the hands of the PA, and security services should follow a unified command. "The outcome is that we basically trust them to take steps that restrain Hamas and undermine their legitimacy in the long run".

"We will continue to fight smuggling at all times in order to ensure that only goods that have been coordinated and approved in advance enter Gaza and that they do not assist terrorist elements", Shaked added.

Abbas wants his government to regain full control before reversing the measures, but Hamas wants them lifted immediately.

Yousef said Egypt was seeking to convince Israeli authorities to allow the three Hamas leaders to leave the West Bank to Cairo to attend the reconciliation talks.

Hamas's capture of Gaza in 2007 ended an earlier - if short-lived - unity government that was established after Hamas swept 2006 Palestinian legislative polls.

Asked about the impact Abbas' new conditions will have on the reconciliation process, political analyst Jehad Harb of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research told Al-Monitor, "There are no red lines in politics".

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