Egyptian delegation arrives in Gaza and holds several meetings to ease obstacles banning the reconciliation agreement from being fully-implemented – Press Photo Egyptian delegation arrives in Gaza and holds several meetings to ease obstacles banning the reconciliation agreement from being fully-implemented – Press Photo

Egypt’s delegation to Gaza eases reconciliation obstacles

Mon, Feb. 26, 2018
CAIRO – 26 February 2018: Amid the continuing efforts that started in October 2017, another Egyptian delegation arrived in Gaza Strip on Sunday night and held several meetings with Palestinian officials on Monday, February 26 to discusses the recent developments regarding the reconciliation agreement signed between long-time Palestinian rivals Fatah and Hamas, along with recent disputes barring the internationally-welcomed recalculation from being fully implemented.

The Egyptian delegation was headed by Major General Sameh Nabil from the Egyptian Intelligence and Egypt's General Consul to Ramallah Khaled Samy, as well as other officials. The list of separate meetings included Palestinian Minster of Transportation Sameh Tubeila and Palestinian Minister of Culture Ihab Bseiso, along with several other members of the Palestinian unity government, according to Palestinian media outlets.

During his meeting with the Egyptian officials, Tubeila discussed some of the obstacles stopping the reconciliation agreement from being fully implemented.

The discussions included the money collected by Hamas leaders in different sectors, including transportation and electricity. Tubeila affirmed that his ministry never received any money collected by Hamas regarding transportation.

Egyptian delegation arrives in Gaza and holds several meetings to ease obstacles banning the reconciliation agreement from being fully-implemented – Press Photo

“Since the beginning of the reconciliation, the government used to spend about $100 million monthly on education, health and many other services in Gaza Strip,” Tubeila stated. He added that several other points were discussed regarding the reconciliation that was considered by the government as a “breach” for the agreement between them and Hamas.

Hamas was partly responsible for the electricity problem, because it took over collecting individual and commercial electricity bills that Gazans had to pay to the Fatah government; however, Hamas was not using this money to buy the needed fuel to keep the generators going.

The Palestinian Authority also cut employees’ salaries in Gaza and limited travel permits for residents seeking medical services outside the besieged strip. Fatah said it would be prepared to restore the various budgets once Hamas enables the legitimate government to exercise its authority over the strip.

Other points, related to the government control over border crossings, were discussed during the meetings of both sides. In statements to Palestinian Sawa news agency on Monday, Azzam al-Ahmad, member of the Fatah Central Committee, affirmed that both the Palestinian and Egyptian parties agreed on several things, including banning terrorists from using the Rafah crossing or taking privilege of it in any way.

“We agreed with the Egyptian authorities two weeks ago not to allow terrorists to use the crossings in Sinai in any way. The suffering of Gaza’s people will not end without ending the dispute between the Palestinian parties along with opening all the crossings, including Rafah,” Ahmad said.

He added that the government will continue doing its job and duties regardless of the challenges and difficulties it may face.

Egypt has opened the Rafah crossing border more than once to allow the passage of humanitarian cases from both sides. The last time it was opened was on February 21 for four days. Cairo has been playing a key role in the reconciliation process between Fatah and Hamas. In October 2017, a reconciliation agreement was signed in Cairo between them.

The Rafah border crossing is one of the most important crossings between Egypt and Gaza, which is formally under the Gaza authorities’ control.

This crossing is mainly specialized for individual movements across borders, and it was being prepared for goods transfer between the two countries. The Rafah crossing border's importance increased after the Israeli forces had destroyed the Yasser Arafat International Airport in 2001, which was the only airport allowing Palestinians to travel.

On November 2, 2017, about seven borders in Gaza have been handed over to the Palestinian National Reconciliation Government after a long period of conflict between Fatah and Hamas that severely affected their capability to negotiate their cause internationally.

However, after the reconciliation conducted between Fatah and Hamas under Egypt's sponsorship in October, several things have changed as the Palestinian factions announced their unity.

The Rafah border crossing might be considered as one of the most important crossings in Gaza, but there are several other crossings that were also handed to the Palestinian National Reconciliation Government.

On September 17, 2017, Hamas announced the dissolution of its administrative committee in the Gaza Strip, inviting the Government of National Reconciliation to assume its duties and hold general elections. The movement affirmed it would comply with the Social Reconciliation Accord signed in 2011.

Since signing the agreement between Fatah and Hamas, several Egyptian delegations have been visiting Gaza, and vice versa, in order to coordinate implementing all of the agreement points and articles; however, a few points still need further discussions between the Palestinian parties.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said that there is no country as vital to the Palestinian cause as Egypt due to its historical and political position in the region. “Egypt has an opinion, a position and an interest in the Palestinian cause,” said Abbas.

In conjunction with the Palestinian-Egyptian meetings regarding the country’s internal disputes, Egypt’s Minster of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry was attending another meeting of foreign ministers of the six-party Arab committee with foreign ministers of the European Union in Brussels at the headquarters of the European Commission regarding Jerusalem’s situation, especially after the recent escalations by the American administration.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid said in statement issued Monday that the meeting lasted for several hours and discussed resuming the peace process based on international legitimacy.
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