Palestinian negotiators are scheduled to convene tomorrow for their first round of negotiations in the Egyptian capital. The reconciliation bid, the latest in a series of several attempts between the Western-backed Fatah party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the internationally recognized terror group, the Islamist Hamas organization, came after the latter decided, under immense economic and political pressure, to disband its shadow government that administered the Gaza Strip. While Hamas declares its decision to hand over administrative control as a “strategic move,” Palestinian officials in the West Bank told TV7 that “the growing isolation of Hamas was the key ingredient to the latest developments.” The officials pointed to the significant blows Hamas’ umbrella organization, the Muslim Brotherhood, has suffered in recent years, as well as the ongoing blockade imposed by regional powers on Qatar, Hamas’ main financial backer. The final blow that forced the Hamas’ leadership to relinquish its administrative control of Gaza, came after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas decided to stop paying Israel for electricity it provides the Palestinian enclave, a move that has elevated pressure on the densely populated Gaza Strip due to a rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation. That is why, ahead of tomorrow’s meeting in Cairo, Hamas declared that the first steps will focus on the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip. Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said, “Everything will be set for negotiation during the bilateral meeting between Hamas and Fatah with the supervision of Egypt during Cairo talks. On top of the talks will be humanitarian cases in the Gaza Strip, it is an important national, human and ethical case. The case of the employees, the case of the borders, all these cases will be discussed in a responsible way in a friendly atmosphere that will bring good news to the Palestinians. All the outstanding issues like the security and the employees will be discussed on the negotiation table,” he stressed.
Despite voiced optimism with regard to the reconciliation talks, reports indicate that unity is far from a reality. Hamas initially declared that it refuses to consider dismantling its military wing, a precondition of President Mahmoud Abbas, yet Palestinian sources told TV7 that the talks in Cairo could potentially provide forces loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas with a limited security role in the Gaza Strip – as a first stage – for the first time since Hamas took over the territory in 2007. That said, President Mahmoud Abbas emphasized on several occasions that he would not allow Hamas to continue to hold illegal weapons within the Gaza Strip, under any final reconciliation agreement