(JNS.org) Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah arrived in the Gaza Strip Monday for the first time since 2014, as the PA and its rival, the Gaza-ruling terror group Hamas, initiated the first steps in forming a unity government.
Hamdallah’s visit is intended as the first symbolic move toward transferring custodianship of the coastal territory from Hamas to the PA.
Upon arrival, Hamdallah and his 30-vehicle motorcade were greeted by Hamas members as well as members of the PA’s ruling party, Fatah. A crowd of 2,000 people gathered to hear the high-ranking PA official deliver an address.
“The only way to statehood is through unity,” Hamdallah said. “We are coming to Gaza again to deepen the reconciliation and end the split.”
“The government began to exercise its roles in Gaza from today,” he said, praising Hamas for agreeing to hand over governance of the territory to the PA, and lauding Egypt for mediating the reconciliation deal.
The latest move toward Palestinian reconciliation comes after months of economic and political pressure applied by the PA against Hamas, including the PA’s decision to significantly cut its subsidization of Gaza’s electricity bill and stop paying salaries of government workers and former prisoners in Gaza.