Palestinian militant group Hamas said on Sunday that it is ready to dissolve the committee ruling Gaza, and hold a general election for the first time since 2006. Hamas added that it was also willing to hold talks with Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas’ movement, Fatah, to end a decade-long split, AFP reported.
Hamas chief Ismail Haniya agreed to Fatah’s demands of dissolving the committee and getting ready for elections and negotiations during talks with Egyptian officials in Cairo last week, a Hamas official said. Hamas has now called on the Palestinian government “to come to Gaza to exercise its functions and carry out its duties immediately”.
The Gaza Strip, which has about two million people, has been plagued with deteriorating humanitarian conditions and unemployment. Hamas had turned to Egypt for assistance, which, in turn, has put pressure on it to reconcile with Palestine.
Fatah welcomed the statement, and said a bilateral meeting with Hamas would be organised soon. “There will be tangible practical steps in the next few days, starting with the Palestinian national unity government resuming its work according to law in Gaza as it does in the West Bank,” Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmad said.
The last legislative election was held in 2006, which Hamas won. Hamas and Fatah then fought a civil war in Gaza in 2007. Since then, Hamas has governed the small coastal enclave. Abbas, who rules the autonomous enclaves in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, has remained in office for years without a re-election though his term was meant to end in 2009.
Numerous attempts to reconcile have failed, including one in 2014, when Hamas and Fatah had agreed to form a national government to rule both Gaza and the West Bank unitedly.
Since 2007, Israel and Egypt have maintained a land and sea blockade on the Gaza Strip to prevent attacks. Hamas is designated a terrorist group by Israel, the United States, European Union, United Kingdom and other powers.