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Abbas to Visit Gaza as Details of Fatah-Hamas Deal Emerge | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A photo taken from the Israeli side of the border with the Gaza Strip shows a Hamas outpost on a hill (right) along the border, February 25, 2016. (AFP/Jack Guez)

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will visit Gaza for the first time in a decade within a month, a top official in his Fatah party said on Thursday after the movement reached a deal with Hamas over political reconciliation.

Abbas “will be in Gaza within less than a month,” Zakaria al-Agha, a senior Fatah leader in the Gaza Strip, told Agence France Presse following a breakthrough in talks between the two sides mediated by Egypt in Cairo.

Abbas, who told AFP that the unity deal is the “final agreement” to end Palestinian split, has not visited the enclave since his forces were pushed out in 2007 by Hamas which has controlled it ever since. But last month Hamas agreed to cede powers in Gaza to Abbas’ Fatah-backed government.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said in a statement Thursday that the Cairo agreement was reached under “generous Egyptian auspices,” but provided no details.

An Egyptian source close to the talks said intelligence chief Khaled Fawzi had followed the talks closely.

“We congratulate our Palestinian people on the reconciliation agreement reached in Cairo. We make every effort possible to implement it to start a new chapter in the history of our people,” Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem told Reuters.

Some 3,000 police officers from the Palestinian Authority are to redeploy to Gaza as part of the deal, a Palestinian official said.

“According to the agreement, the Palestinian government will be able to take over all its roles in the civil and security sectors, for which 3,000 Palestinian policemen from the …. Palestinian Authority will be redeployed,” the official involved in the talks told AFP on condition of anonymity.

A party to the negotiations said the agreement would see forces of the West Bank-based PA, which is dominated by Fatah, take control of the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt.

Both rivals hope the deal’s proposed deployment of security personnel from the PA to Gaza’s borders will encourage Egypt and Israel to lift their tight restrictions at border crossings, a much needed step to help Gaza revive its economy.