Netanyahu Pledges to Build in Settlement, Annex it to Israel

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah center chairs a reconciliation government cabinet meeting in Gaza City

Rami Hamdallah began his visit with a message of reconciliation, shortly after arriving in a 30-vehicle motorcade through the Erez border crossing separating Israel and Gaza.

Asked about the issue of Gaza border crossings, the Palestinian president said the Palestinian Authority is now responsible for the crossings, as well as security and ministries.

The reconciliation process, which is beginning with the cabinet session, was promoted by Egypt and other USA -allied Arab countries.

About 430,000 Israeli settlers live among 2.6 million Palestinians in the West Bank, occupied by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War.

Bennett was remarking on the visit by PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah in the Gaza Strip on Monday for the first time since 2014, as the PA and its rival, the Hamas terror group which rules Gaza, initiated the first steps in forming a unity government.

The Israeli government had previously kept quiet about the latest attempts at reconciliation, announced by Hamas two weeks ago, despite showing strong opposition to any deal in the past.

Ahead of the meeting, Mr Abbas staked out a tough line on reconciliation with Hamas, warning he would not tolerate any solution short of the disarming of its Izzedin Al Qasam militia.

Palestinian PM arrives in Gaza, first visit since 2015

Hamas was elected to lead the Palestinian government in 2006, but faced a Fatah-led coup backed by Israel and the US.

The decade-long Israeli siege of Gaza-punctuated by bloody assaults-kept Hamas under pressure.

Hamas, considered a terrorist group by Israel and the West, last month disbanded its Gaza shadow government, after Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates imposed an economic boycott on its main donor, Qatar.

The sides will hold further talks on Tuesday in Cairo.

Hamas's deal with Egypt reportedly involved exiled Fatah politician Muhammed Dahlan.

Also helping to arrange the agreement were Egyptian President Abdel-Fatah el-Sisi, who wants Hamas' cooperation in deterring attacks on Egyptian soldiers in the northern Sinai peninsula bordering Gaza. However, in an apparent reference to Hamas, he said any Palestinian government "must unambiguously and explicitly commit to non-violence, recognition of the state of Israel, acceptance of previous agreements and obligations between the parties and peaceful negotiations". As opposed to what Israeli commentators claim, transferring civil responsibilities to a unity government does not mean Hamas has admitted its political mission has failed and will go back to being an armed resistance organization. The 82-year-old Palestinian leader has said the rift with Gaza is his greatest regret.

"The committees will start its discussions and studying all issues right after the meeting", Al-Mahmoud said.




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