Hamas has taken a major step towards ending years of Palestinian political division, group leader Ismail Haniyeh said Tuesday.
He made the remarks at a news conference held at the Egypt-Rafah border crossing following a 10-day visit to Cairo, where he – as the head of a large delegation – held talks with Egyptian officials.
According to Haniyeh, the talks in Cairo tackled a range of issues, including Palestinian political developments, Hamas-Egypt relations, the security file, Jerusalem and the situation in Gaza.
As for efforts by Hamas to end the years-long rivalry with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement, Haniyeh said that Hamas had taken a “major step forward”.
“Hamas took a bold decision by choosing to dissolve its administrative committee so as to allow the [Ramallah-based] unity government to assume a governing role in the Gaza Strip until elections can be held,” he said.
He went on to describe the move as “an invitation to the unity government to assume its responsibilities in Gaza”.
In a statement issued Sunday, Hamas announced it had dissolved an administrative committee set up earlier this year in a bid to promote reconciliation with Fatah.
In recent months, Abbas had repeatedly demanded the committee’s dissolution as a precondition for reconciliation.
In the same statement, Hamas also stressed its appreciation for Egyptian efforts to end Palestinian divisions, calling on the unity government to “immediately” assume a governing role in Gaza.
“We confirmed during our meetings in Egypt that the West Bank cannot be separated from Gaza,” he said. “Ending the [Israeli-Egyptian] siege of Gaza tops our list of priorities.”
He added: “We are now awaiting the next step by our brothers in Ramallah now that the committee has been dissolved.”
Haniyeh also thanked Egypt’s intelligence services for hosting his delegation, noting that Cairo had hosted the first meeting of Hamas’s newly-elected political bureau.
“We enjoyed the hospitality of Egyptian officials and felt their sense of responsibility towards Gaza and the Palestinian cause,” he said.
On 9 September, Haniyeh arrived in Cairo at the head of a high-level Hamas delegation to discuss the group’s relations with Egypt and Palestinian reconciliation with Egyptian officials.