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PA officially takes control of Gaza borders from Hamas

Nov. 1, 2017 3:51 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 2, 2017 3:56 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The Fatah-led Palestinian Authority (PA) officially took over administrative control from Hamas of the border crossings in the besieged Gaza Strip on Wednesday, as part of the continued transfer of power from Hamas to the Palestinian unity government.

Both the Palestinian and Egyptian national anthems were played during the handover ceremony at the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza.

An Egyptian security delegation, PA Minister of Public Works Mufid al-Hasayna, General Director of Crossings and Borders Nathmi Muhanna, and several PA ministers and officials took part in the ceremony.

Pictures of President Mahmoud Abbas and Egyptian President Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi were hung side by side on buildings for the first time since division.

Al-Hasayna said in a press conference held after the ceremony that the transition of power at the crossings marked “a true lead on the road for reconciliation and ending division.”

In the reconciliation agreement signed last month by Hamas and Fatah, it was reportedlty agreed that the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza would be operated by PA presidential guards by November 1.

After the reconciliation deal was signed, the Egyptian government called for a meeting between the factions in Cairo on November 21 to discuss the next steps in implementing the agreement.

According to Israeli news daily Haaretz, Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said that "the next phase of reconciliation will be a meeting of representatives of all the Palestinian factions in Cairo to discuss the major national issues - such as Hamas's military wing, the issue of weapons and political positions.”

Numerous attempts have been made in the past to reconcile Hamas and Fatah since they came into violent conflict in 2007.

In addition to resolving the issue of public employees and Hamas’ military wing, Hamas and Fatah plan to pave the way for legislative elections for the unity government that would rule both the occupied West Bank and Gaza.

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