Hamas Moves to End Dispute with Abbas's Fatah Movement

Hamas paves way for Palestinian elections as it signals readiness to end Fatah feud

Hamas agreed to dissolve the administrative committee it had formed in March past year to run the daily affairs in the Gaza Strip, the coastal enclave that Hamas has been ruling since it had violently taken control of it in the summer of 2007.

Since Hamas ousted the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority from Gaza in 2007, Hamas and Fatah have essentially established two separate governments, one Hamas-run government in Gaza and another PA-led government in the West Bank.

The Hamas movement, which has ruled the Gaza Strip since it forcibly seized control in 2007, said it is ready to meet in Cairo with Abbas' Fatah party and other factions on the formation of a unity government.

In July this year it emerged Gaza's Hamas movement was seeking a rapprochement with the Palestinian leader once regarded as its greatest enemy, as the Islamist group faces unprecedented challenges from all sides.

A senior Fatah official, Mahmoud Aloul, welcomed Hamas' position calling it a positive sign, and saying that the Fatah movement is ready to implement reconciliation.

The group said it was "responding to the generous Egyptian efforts, which reflect the Egyptian desire to end the split and achieve reconciliation, and based on our desire to achieve national unity".

The unemployment rate now stands at 42 percent in Gaza, infrastructure for water and electricity do not meet its residents' basic needs and half of the population relies on humanitarian aid.

Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza, including Hamas, have fought three wars since 2008.

The Gaza administrative committee is the de facto government in region after Hamas defeated Fatah in parliamentary elections in 2006.

Punishing measures included reducing electricity payments for the Gaza strip and cutting salaries for civil servants there.

"This puts Abu Mazen and Fatah to the real test", Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said in a statement on Hamas' official website. Abbas sent a delegation of representatives to Egypt as well.

However, Bjorn was skeptical if Hamas's announcement on Sunday would lead to a full-fledged reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah.

Hamas' statement now places the onus on Abbas to decide what to do next.

The demands outlined by Abbas reportedly include holding Palestinian elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to settle the decade-long dispute between the rival Palestinian factions.

United Nations officials have urged Israel to lift its decade-long blockade of Gaza.

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