Chief Palestinian negotiator Azzam al-Ahmad of Fatah movement shakes hand with Hamas deputy leader Musa Abu Marzouk. (Photo: Reuters)
Palestinian factions held a meeting in Gaza on Thursday to announce a new political initiative that seeks to revitalise a unity government.
The initiative was presented by the Popular Front, Democratic Front and Islamic Jihad in a bid to revive the stalled reconciliation process.
Fayez Abu Aitta, Fatah spokesman, told the Palestinian Ma'an news agency that the proposal came following the collapse of "reconciliation efforts" after the November explosions that hit the residencies of Fatah leaders in the Gaza Strip.
One of at least ten explosions targeted a stage that was set to host a ceremony that marks the 10th anniversary of Palestinian icon and Fatah founder Yasser Arafat's death.
During seven years of enmity and failed attempts at compromise, the Islamist group Hamas has maintained its governing position in Gaza, while Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas – Fatah leader – ruled the Palestinian – controlled parts of the occupied West Bank.
In an interview with the Palestinian Press Agency (SAFA), Ramzy Rabah, member of the Democratic Front's politburo, said the initiative encompasses five points.
The initiative will address the Rafah crossing issue in coordination with Egypt, form a committee of all factions and prominent Palestinian figures to support the unity government in practicing its roles in Gaza and assign the unity government with the task of rebuilding the war-torn strip.
Moreover, the initiative includes continuing the ongoing probe over the Gaza explosion to reach the perpetrators and punish them as well as a call for the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) to meet as soon as possible to establish a plan to implement a reconciliation deal.
Rabah called on both Fatah and Hamas to have the "political will needed to push the matter forward." He asserted that the initiative, in addition to restoring reconciliation endeavors, will "open new prospects" for the Gaza issue, mainly setting a date for a new round of the indirect Egyptian-mediated talks with Israel over the August truce.
An Egyptian-brokered ceasefire between the Palestinian factions and Israel in late August ended a fifty-day Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip. Nearly 2,200 Palestinians lost their lives during the offensive, in addition to more than 12,000 injured, most of whom were civilians. On the Israeli side, 73 were killed, mostly soldiers. The Israeli destruction of homes during the assault left tens of thousands of Palestinians homeless.
Following a reconciliation deal last April, rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas established a unity government which included independents in June. Last October, the unity government made a 24-hour visit to Gaza, the first by a joint Hamas-Fattah delegation since the rival groups ended years-long tensions.
Ramy Al-Hamdallah, the unity government's premier, said the finalisation of the Palestinian reconciliation deal was an essential step to holding the international community and its "active players" responsible for rebuilding Gaza during the visit.
"In this respect, we speak about completely bringing the Israeli occupation to an end through allowing free movement in Gaza, and opening the crossings," he stated.
Last September, Fatah and Hamas announced reaching a comprehensive settlement over issues of disagreement during a two-day meeting in Cairo.