After multiple failed attempts to resolve the decades-long conflict between Fatah and Hamas, the two Palestinian movements met in Cairo today (Tuesday) to negotiate reconciliation, specifically with a focus on the Gaza Strip’s governing.

Fatah's delegation in Cairo, today

Fatah’s delegation in Cairo, today Photo Credit: Channel 2 News

Palestinian reconciliation talks have officially opened. Amid reports that Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has demanded Hamas disarm, representatives of Fatah and Hamas met in Cairo on Tuesday. A series of optimistic statements stated that the parties were on the right path to reconciliation between the two factions.

“We are meeting in Cairo in the hope of formulating a road map entitled National Reconciliation,” Hamas representative Azat Raheek wrote via his Twitter account. “Unity and national reconciliation among the entire Palestinian people is our strategic option to move forward.” One of the leaders of the Fatah’s delegation, Azzam al-Ahmad, told Reuters that the negotiations would also include the management of government ministries in Gaza – though the issue of security and security forces remains controversial and for the time being at the center of the talks.

The security cooperation could include, among other things, the possible deployment of 3,000 Fatah security officers who will join the Gaza police for the coming year, returning most of Abbas’ influence in Gaza, all the while, weakening Hamas’ control in the Strip.

Fatah claims that the Rafah Crossing should be controlled by Abbas’ presidential guard and be placed under the European Union’s supervision, replacing the Hamas members currently stationed there. In addition, Fatah stated that the Palestinian government will then implement a similar arrangement at the Erez and Kerem Shalom crossings.

Gaza's security control remains controversial

Gaza’s security control remains controversial Photo Credit: Hamas’ Twitter Page/ Channel 2 News

The Palestinian government in Ramallah expressed cautionary hope that the talks in Cairo would succeed. “The cabinet hopes that the national dialogue in Cairo will succeed in reaching a reconciliation and unification of the homeland, expresses a readiness to quickly fulfill its functions in the Gaza Strip,” read an official statement released ahead of the summit in the hope that reconciliation would cause Israel and Egypt to ease restrictions on the border crossings in order to rehabilitate Gaza’s collapsing economy. 

The talks in Cairo take place after several failed attempts by Egypt to resolve the conflict between the two Palestinian movements and form a unity government across Gaza and the West Bank. In 2014 Fatah and Hamas agreed to form a reconciliation government, yet Hamas still controls the Gaza Strip.

In anticipation of talks that could end the long-running conflict between the two parties, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned against “false reconciliation” and reiterated Israel’s demand to dismantle Hamas’ military wing, that is however, not on the agenda.