With Hamas’ militant, Islamic rule over Gaza’s Palestinian population under severe distress, and the Palestinian Authority eager to assert its control over the area, both factions agree to reconciliation. This is carried out under the mediation of Egyptian President al-Sisi, and pressures from other Arab states. More than a decade passes since Israel withdrew voluntarily from Gaza (2005) and Hamas wrested administrative control of the 365 sq. km territory and its 2 million Palestinians (2007). Five previous attempts at reconciliation of the two factions failed. Hamas opposes any negotiations with or recognition of Israel since its formation. Hamas is willing to turn the financial burdens of Gaza’s population over to the PA, but less clear is its willingness to turn over or disarm its more than 20,000 fighters, all committed to Israel’s destruction. Egypt’s motivations include seeking to stem Hamas militancy from seeping into the Egyptian controlled Sinai Peninsula and to reassert its own centrality in Arab politics. Israel seeks to have security and economic cooperation stabilized with the PA, yet frets that somehow Hamas’ terrorist label and associated boycott by Europe will be lifted as a result of association with the PA. How the Hamas leadership will remain engaged in determining future Palestinian political outlooks likewise remains unknown.
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