Reconciliation deadline missed, yet Abbas, Sissi agree to further cooperation

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ISTANBUL
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Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas missed a major deadline in their reconciliation bid by failing to transfer power in the Gaza Strip. Sunday had been the deadline for the handover a decade after Hamas seized power in the Palestinian enclave in a near civil war with Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmud Abbas's Fatah, based in the occupied West Bank.

Abbas met with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi in Cairo on Monday to discuss "joint action" against U.S. President Donald Trump's Jerusalem move, the PA Wafa news agency reported. According to a written statement from the Egyptian presidency, the two leaders emphasized the importance of Palestinian reconciliation as a "strategic option" in the face of the U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, as reported by Anadolu Agency (AA).

Trump's declaration of Jerusalem as Israel's capital has further complicated an already difficult attempt to transfer power in Gaza from Hamas back to the PA.An Egyptian-brokered agreement in early October originally set a Dec. 1 deadline for full transfer of power back to the PA, although that was later pushed back to Dec. 10.

Multiple previous reconciliation attempts have failed since Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007. The Cairo deal signed last month is aimed at ending the decade-long feud between Fatah and Hamas. Hamas has controlled the Gaza Strip since seizing it in 2007 in a near civil war with Fatah, leaving Palestinians with two separate administrations.

A first deadline under the accord was met, with Hamas handing control of Gaza's borders to the PA on Nov. 1. But more difficult issues remain, and a number of previous attempts at reconciliation have failed.All institutions and public schools shut down in the Gaza Strip yesterday as Hamas-affiliated employees demanded that the PA government pay their salaries. The employee issue is one of the major sticking points along with the future of Hamas's militant force in a decade of failed reconciliation attempts between the two sides. Abbas has refused to add around 40,000 Hamas bureaucrats to his government's already bloated payroll, while Hamas is unwilling to leave the employees jobless.

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