Gaza-based resistance group Hamas unveiled a new initiative yesterday aimed at ending a decade of inter-Palestinian political division. Within the context of its new initiative, Hamas has voiced its readiness to dissolve an "administrative committee" it established in March tasked with coordinating between Gaza's public institutions.
Since the committee's establishment, the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority (PA) of President Mahmoud Abbas, led by rival Palestinian faction Fatah (which is also headed by Abbas), has repeatedly called for its dissolution.
In a Wednesday statement, Salah al-Bardawil, a member of Hamas's influential political bureau, promised that -- within the context of the new initiative -- the administrative committee "would end its emergency mission in Gaza immediately after the [Fatah-led] unity government assumes its responsibilities in the Gaza Strip".
Al-Bardawil went on to explain that Hamas's renewed push for inter-Palestinian rapprochement had come in response "to the voices of the Palestinian masses who revolted in Jerusalem and won the Battle of the Al-Aqsa Gates".
In mid-July, Israel imposed a raft of draconian security measures in and around East Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque complex after two Israeli police officers were killed in the area, allegedly by Palestinian attackers.
Palestinians responded to the measures by staging demonstrations throughout the Palestinian territories and refusing to enter the mosque complex in Jerusalem.
For 15 days, Palestinian Muslims prayed en masse outside the gates of the holy site in a move that drew widespread media attention. Embarrassed by the wave of peaceful protests and facing mounting international criticism, Israel cancelled the security measures last Friday in a move hailed by Palestinians as a rare victory.
Hamas, for its part, seized the opportunity posed by the rare show of Palestinian national unity to launch a fresh effort to mend fences with Fatah and forge a unified front against Israel's decades-long occupation.
"Hamas extends its hand [to Fatah] with a view to achieving Palestinian reconciliation on a clear and robust basis," al-Bardawil said. He also called on the Ramallah-based government to reverse "all measures imposed against Gaza since the administrative committee's establishment" in March.
In April, Abbas vowed to take "unprecedented steps" in regards to the Gaza Strip, which has been governed by Hamas since 2007, when the resistance group wrested it from Fatah after several days of street fighting.
In recent months, Abbas appears to have made good on his threat, with the Ramallah government cutting the salaries of all PA employees based in Gaza by some 30 percent. The Ramallah-based PA has also reduced the amount it pays Israel for the provision of roughly 10 percent of Gaza's electricity needs, exacerbating the coastal strip's already-chronic energy shortfall. In hopes of averting further escalations and presenting Israel -- its primary foe -- with a united Palestinian front, al-Bardawil voiced Hamas's desire for the resumption of Palestinian national dialogue with a view to forming a bona fide government of national unity. He concluded by calling on Palestine's myriad political groups to agree on dates for holding legislative, presidential and Palestinian National Council elections.
In 2014, Hamas and Fatah -- which govern the blockaded Gaza Strip and the Israeli-occupied West Bank respectively -- agreed in principle to establish a national unity government. The so-called "unity government" later set up in Ramallah, however, has largely failed to assume any governing role in Gaza due to outstanding ideological differences between the two factions.
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