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Probably the most fascinating factor about shorts

  • CAIRO ;, Sept. 20 (Xinhua) -- The recent reconciliation between Palestinian rival groups Fatah and Hamas is not just a blessing for the Palestinians, but also positive news for Egypt which brokered the deal between the two major Palestinian factions.

    After in-depth negotiations hosted by the Egyptian Intelligence in Cairo, Hamas ruling the Gaza Strip and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party eventually reached a reconciliation pact on Sunday to heal their decade-long rift.

    Moreover, they agreed to form a unity government and prepare for the general parliamentary and presidential elections.

    Surprisingly, Hamas also promised to dissolve the administrative committee it formed in March to manage daily affairs in Gaza ;, which Hamas has been ruling since it routed Abbas' military forces in the summer of 2007.

    The formation of the committee, which was considered by Abbas a shadow government, pushed the Palestinian president to introduce unprecedented tight measures against the coastal enclave, including a 30 percent slash in staff salaries, refusing to pay for electricity services and sending 7 ,000 employees to early retirement.

    Observers believe the reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas is also something in favor of Egypt.

    "Egypt is keen to have a strong and legitimate authority in Gaza to secure its borders in Sinai, a hotbed for terrorists who killed hundreds of Egyptian army and security men," Professor Abdel Mohdy Motawe, a Cairo-based Palestinian political analyst, told Xinhua.

    Egypt has on many occasions accused Hamas of aiding terrorists linked to the Islamic State (IS) in Sinai ;, which borders the Gaza Strip, a charge that Hamas has always denied.

    Unifying the Palestinians once again will help Egypt regain its regional weight as the leading Arab country, Motawe explained.

    Cairo has been working hard to renew the stalled peace talks between Palestinians and Israelis, but the internal Palestinian division has always been an obstacle to peace talks, the Palestinian expert noted.

    The peace process has seen no progress since former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry failed to broker negotiations between the two sides in April 2014 after a nine-month quest.

    "Israel has always used the Palestinian split as an excuse to avoid peace negotiations with Abbas ," Motawe said. "But reuniting the Palestinians will corner Israel and provide Egypt with more space to maneuver for relaunching serious peace talks."

    The seven-decade Palestinian-Israeli conflict has been a major concern in the turmoil-stricken Middle East region. A Saudi-led Arab peace initiative in 2002 urged Israel to fully withdraw from the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 in return for normal relations with the Arab world. However, the Jewish state rejected the initiative.

    Although Hamas and Fatah expressed willingness to end rift, Motawe warned that the recent agreement may not see the light as both factions had previously inked many reconciliation agreements, but never worked to implement them on the ground.

    "The two parties have agreed to implement the Cairo Reconciliation Agreement signed in Cairo May 2011. This shows how the reconciliation on the ground could be extremely difficult," he said.

    It is Hamas who always failed to implement reconciliation deals with Fatah ;, the expert noted, expecting Egypt to take punitive measures against the party that delays or undermines the full implementation of the Egyptian-proposed deal.

    Samir Ghattas, an Egyptian lawmaker and an expert in the Palestinian affairs, also expressed alarm at the seemingly positive step, as it could be "a scheme from Hamas to release pressure exercised by Egypt and other regional powers."

    "The Hamas move should be welcomed ;, but Hamas previously foiled at least five reconciliation agreements," Ghattas told Xinhua.

    The Egyptian legislator put forward a serious question about security in the Gaza Strip and the relationship between Hamas and regional powers.

    "Will Hamas fully hand over power in Gaza to the legal authorities? If there are no clear answers to the question, the Hamas declaration remains a mere maneuver to get around the Palestinian reconciliation and the dire economic and political conditions it has been going through," Ghattas explained.

    Since 2013 when Egypt's former Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, a Hamas ally ;, was ousted by the military, Egypt has destroyed most of the tunnels used to transport food, weapons and goods into Gaza.

    The closure of Rafah crossing, Gaza's only window to the outside world through Egypt, has further strengthened the isolation of Hamas.

    "These factors might be behind Hamas agreement to patch up with Fatah this time. But Hamas always avoided talking about reconciliation when it had power and cash ," Ghattas said.

    "I hope Hamas is sincere about achieving reconciliation and I believe there must be real guarantees, especially from Egypt, that Hamas will not act as it did in previous agreements," the Egyptian expert said.

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    by Matt Walsh

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