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Palestinian government considering Cabinet meeting in Gaza

April 18, 2016 1:23 P.M. (Updated: April 18, 2016 9:02 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Palestinian Authority government is considering holding a Cabinet meeting in Gaza City "as soon as possible," an official who spoke on condition of anonymity told Ma'an on Monday.

The official said Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah "is seriously considering having a Cabinet meeting in Gaza" as he wants his ministers to see firsthand the dire conditions faced by Palestinians in the blockaded coastal enclave.

The official added that all Cabinet ministers would be expected to attend the meeting.

The report comes less than two weeks after senior delegations from rival factions Fatah and Hamas met in Gaza City in the most high-ranking gathering to convene since a new round of reconciliation talks began in Qatar earlier this year.

The Fatah delegation, comprising members of the movement's central committee, met with Hamas deputy head Ismail Haniyeh and other senior ranking officials to discuss the enactment of past reconciliation agreements.

Hamdallah has led a so-called unity government consisting of nominally politically independent technocrats since June 2014, when Fatah and Hamas last came together in reconciliation.

However, disputes between the two factions continued to plague the Ramallah-based government, and it found itself unable to function in Gaza, where Hamas ministries held onto their power.

In June last year, a high-profile delegation of the government's ministers headed to the coastal enclave to solve a dispute over government employees, but the visit quickly ended in disarray, with each side blaming the other for its failure.

Since then, it has been a unity government in name alone, and few Palestinians view it as bridging the divide between Fatah and Hamas.

However, relations have improved since the latest round of reconciliation talks between Fatah and Hamas began in January this year, and for the past few months there has been close contact between the two factions.

UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov welcomed the latest bid to end Palestinian division, expressing hope it would lead to a unity government that would conduct "long-overdue" elections.

"The Palestinian people, particularly in Gaza, have suffered enough," he said. "They deserve to see the West Bank and Gaza reunited under a single, democratic and legitimate Palestinian authority."
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