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Egypt-hosted talks raise new hopes for peace in Palestine
Egypt is mediating talks between the Palestinian Authority and its rival Hamas, in which the two factions are working to put their differences aside and work together.
By Kathy Fey
Feb 22, 2018

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WASHINGTON D.C. — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has been at odds with Palestinian militant group Hamas since Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007 and effectively cut the Palestinian territory in two. But the two factions have been holding talks in recent weeks with Egypt acting as a mediator, and have jointly expressed renewed hope of permanently resolving their differences and of working together to achieve their shared dream of an independent Palestinian state.

A senior Palestinian official said that Abbas and leaders of Fatah, Abbas' political party, might visit Gaza in the next few weeks. Hamas hasn't allowed Abbas into Gaza since 2007.

"We all know that there are several hard topics and issues to deal with," said Tayseer Nasrallah, a member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council. "But we now have the positive spirit to achieve this reconciliation with the help of Egypt."

And last Thursday, Hamas and Fatah also announced "preliminary" agreement on a plan to return administrative control of Gaza to greater Palestine's official government, the Palestinian Authority. It, not Hamas, would collect Gazan taxes and oversee Gazan government workers' payrolls.

Hamas and Fatah are also discussing a proposal by Egypt to open the Gaza-Egypt border crossing. In return, Hamas would have to let Fatah deploy 3,000 police officers in Gaza territory and deploy a team that would check people and goods at the border post.

Hamas' ceding of power could majorly relieve the poor living conditions of regular Gazans, as well. It would end the border restrictions that have devastated Gaza's economy, and facilitate rebuilding of public services and infrastructures destroyed by Israeli counterterrorism operations.

Bringing these Palestinian factions closer together is a stated goal of Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi. He has said that lack of Palestinian unity is one of the key obstacles to attaining an independent Palestine.