Bennet to demand 'complete disconnection' from PA following reconciliation deal

Senior Christian Priest Father Manuel Musallam

Hamas said Sunday that it had handed over control of the Gaza Strip to the Palestinian Authority, Haaretz reported citing Hamas deputy leader in Gaza, Khalil al-Hayya in an interview with the Hamas-affiliated Al-Aqsa television.

There has been a period of relative calm between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip since 2014's confrontation between the two, with the militant group instead focused on carrying out acts of violence in the West Bank and Israel.

Fatah's spokesperson told reporters on Saturday that Hamas will hand over control of all crossing borders before November 1; and Hamas members may "take part in the crossing borders' administration office".

One such person is Asraa Sherif, a student who wishes to pursue her higher studies in Turkey.

The deal comes a month after Hamas dissolved the committee which runs the Gaza Strip and said it was willing to work towards reconciliation with its West Bank rivals.

While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he is waiting for developments following the signed reconciliation deal between the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas, not everyone in the Israeli government is satisfied with this answer including Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett.

The talks in Cairo were apparently focused on enabling the Palestinian Authority to resume its operations in Gaza.

Reconciliation could also pose a dilemma for worldwide efforts to reach an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal since Hamas has not recognized Israel, unlike the Abbas-led Palestine Liberation Organization.

"One authority, one law and one weapon", Abbas said he was demanding, adding he would not allow Hamas to retain an army apart from the state like the terror group Hezbollah does in Lebanon. The contentious issue of paying Hamas employees aims to be resolved by February 1, with the PA expected to continue issuing the workers' salaries; whereas, the even stickier matter of the fate of Hamas' armed wing seems not to have been concretely addressed, although a clause in the agreement calls for PA officials in Gaza to begin devising ways to rebuild their security forces there.

The crossing has remained largely closed in recent years.

Israeli site Haaretz quoted a Palestinian source as saying that both sides were keen to avoid undermining the deal, which came following years of tensions after Hamas' 2007 takeover of control in Gaza. Hamas and Israel fought three wars over the past decade.

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