The Palestinian Authority prime minister is leading a delegation to Gaza, where they are meeting Hamas leaders in a bid to heal the rift between the rival factions. Hamas seized control of Gaza from the PA in 2007.

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah chairs a cabinet meeting for the first time since 2014 in Gaza City, October 3, 2017. (Reuters)
Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah chairs a cabinet meeting for the first time since 2014 in Gaza City, October 3, 2017. (Reuters) (Reuters)

The Palestinian cabinet met in Gaza on Tuesday for the first time since 2014, in a step towards the internationally recognised and Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority (PA) retaking control of the territory.

The meeting of the government, which is based in the occupied West Bank, comes as part of moves to end a decade-long split between the PA and the Hamas movement, which runs Gaza.

TRT World's Nicole Johnston has more.

In his opening address, Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah renewed his pledge to end the rift.

"We are here to turn the page on division, restore the national project to its correct direction and establish the [Palestinian] state," he said.

It is the first meeting of the cabinet in Gaza since November 2014 and comes a day after Hamdallah entered the territory for the first time since a unity government collapsed in June 2015.

Hamas has controlled Gaza since seizing it from the PA in a near-civil war in 2007 and multiple previous reconciliation attempts have failed.

Last month, Hamas announced they were willing to cede civilian control in Gaza to the PA, after Egyptian pressure.

Tuesday's cabinet session took place at the official Gaza residence of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas in the cabinet office, hung with portraits of Abbas and historic Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

"Today we are faced with a historic revival in which we are grappling with our wounds and elevating our unity," Hamdallah said, reaffirming that there would be no Palestinian state without Gaza.

Mixed reactions 

Turkey has welcomed the talks between Hamas and Fatah, calling them an "historic" step towards unity.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would reject any reconciliation deal between the two leading Palestinian factions unless the military wing of Hamas disarmed.

"Whoever wants to make such a reconciliation, our understanding is very clear: recognise the State of Israel, disband the Hamas military arm, sever the connection with Iran, which calls for our destruction," Netanyahu said.

UN Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov said on Monday that he was "carefully optimistic" about the reconciliation talks.

But analysts remain sceptical about the chances of a wider reconciliation between the two sides.

"The US welcomes efforts to create the conditions for the Palestinian Authority to fully assume its responsibilities in Gaza," White House special envoy Jason Greenblatt said.

But in an apparent reference to Hamas, Greenblatt added that any Palestinian government "must unambiguously and explicitly commit to nonviolence, recognition of the State of Israel, acceptance of previous agreements and obligations between the parties and peaceful negotiations."

Hamas does not accept Israel's right to exist.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies