Israel Silent on Palestinian Reconciliation as Hamdallah Visits Gaza

by Yona Schnitzer/TPS

It has been two weeks since Fatah and Hamas announced the reconciliation between the two battling Palestinian factions, but Israel has yet to officially address the issue.

This morning, a delegation headed by Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah traveled from Ramallah to Gaza to hold a government meeting, marking the first time since 2014 that a PA official has visited Gaza.

Speaking about the reconciliation efforts, and their possible ramifications on peace talks with Israel, Jibril Rajoub, Secretary of the Fatah Central Committee, told Israel Public Broadcast Corporation (Kan) that Hamas is willing to live in a state within the 1967 borders, and that the group has “no more interest in wars.”

Rajoub noted during the interview that: “Egypt is taking care of [the matter of] your missing persons,” hinting at a possible Israeli stake in the negotiations and referring to the two fallen Israeli soldiers whose bodies have been held by Hamas in Gaza since Operation Protective Edge in 2014 – Lieutenant Hadar Goldin and Staff Sergeant Oron Shaul, as well as Avera Mengisto, Hisham Shaaban al-Said, and Jumaah Ibrahim Abu Anima – three Israeli civilians who each crossed into Gaza on their own and are believed to be held by Hamas.

Brig. Gen. (Res.) Shlomo Brom, a senior research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies told Tazpit Press Service (TPS) that the reason Israel has yet to address the developing reconciliation, may be a desire to avoid friction with Egypt, which is mediating the talks between Fatah and Hamas and sees reconciliation as a major policy goal.

Brom suggested another possible reason for Israel’s silence: The fact that there has been reconciliation attempts in the past which have never amounted to anything, and that “Israel is basically waiting to see if it is serious.”

Meanwhile, Maj. Gen. (Res.) Amos Gilead, head of the Israeli Institute for Policy and Strategy, said he was skeptical that any reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas would moderate the Islamic group’s stance.  “There is no such thing as a moderate Hamas, they are not abandoning the notion of violence against Israel,” Gilead said,

The former Director of Policy and Political-Military Affairs at the Ministry of Defense. also stated that, in his opinion, in the framework of a reconciliation agreement,  the military branch of Hamas would not forfeit its pow

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