Do Unity Moves put Hamas Back in the Driving Seat in Gaza?

The rival Palestinian factions are set to meet in Gaza after a decade of bitter feuding

Hamas’s offer to submit to a long-delayed reconciliation process with its Fatah rivals signals that the balance of regional forces may be tipping in its favour and against Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, analysts say.

Officials from the Palestinian Authority (PA), led by Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, are due in Gaza on Monday, for the first time in three years, to test Hamas’s commitment to establishing a unity government.

The first weekly government meeting is scheduled to take place on Tuesday, with an Egyptian delegation overseeing the proceedings.

Hopes are that reconciliation will end a decade of bitter feuding between Hamas and Fatah – and a parallel entrenchment of territorial divisions between Gaza and the occupied West Bank.

Most analysts expect the reconciliation process to fail, as previous attempts have. The biggest stumbling block is likely to be over long-promised elections. Polls suggest that Hamas would win in both Gaza and the West Bank.

Nonetheless, the move is being hailed by PA officials as a victory for Abbas, Fatah’s leader, after he imposed harsh sanctions on Gaza over the summer to punish Hamas for setting up what was viewed as a shadow government there.

Abbas more alone than ever

Abbas’s measures have included cutting electricity to a few hours a day and slashing the salaries of thousands of government workers.

But experts argue that the…

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