As part of Palestinian reconciliation deal, Ramallah will reportedly send an initial 3,000 guards to the Strip
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas signed a decree on Monday to begin drafting recruits to establish a security presence for the PA in the Gaza Strip, in accordance with a recently inked reconciliation deal between rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah, Palestinian Civil Affairs Minister Hussein al-Sheikh said.
Sheikh announced the decision in an interview with Palestine TV Monday night.
While the minister did not specify how many recruits the Fatah-controlled PA intends to draft for the purpose of securing Gaza, sources familiar with the reconciliation deal signed in Cairo on Thursday said 3,000 PA policemen would redeploy to the Strip.
The figure is a fraction of the number of police officers employed by Hamas, the terrorist organization that runs the Gaza Strip.
In the reconciliation agreement, Hamas formally agreed to let the Fatah-run PA govern Gaza, including taking over border crossings, and to get working on forming a Palestinian unity government.
The agreement also stipulated that PA security officials would travel to Gaza and coordinate with “relevant parties” to begin “rebuilding the security services.”
Hamas is due to hand over Gaza’s border crossings by November 1 ahead of a full transfer of power by December 1.
Abbas has been insistent that he wants the PA to be in full control of Gaza, including all of its weapons, before he would accept the idea of forming a unity government with Hamas.
Hamas, however, has said it is unwilling to disarm its reportedly 25,000-strong army. The terror group’s leader Ismail Haniyeh last week made a distinction between weapons of the state and weapons “of the resistance,” referring to Hamas’s arsenal and militants, the latter of which he said would remain until the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was resolved.
Sheikh, who is one of Abbas’s closest advisers and in charge of coordinating the PA’s affairs with Israel, reaffirmed the PA president’s insistence that his government be in full control of all arms in the Gaza Strip.
“There isn’t one country in the world that would accept a dual approach for authority, decision-making, order or arms,” he said.
“We are not militias who share authority between us. We want a regime that’s in total and complete control of authority,” he added.
While noting that the reconciliation process with Hamas would not be easy, Sheikh said the PA was “not going to look back.”
Hamas seized control of Gaza from Abbas’s Fatah in a violent coup in 2007. It has since fought three major rounds of conflict with Israel.
Israel, along with much of the international community, has said it will not accept any Palestinian unity government unless Hamas renounced terrorism and recognized the State of Israel.
Meanwhile, relations between the two sides have already begun to decline, casting doubt over the future of the rapprochement effort. Hamas has demanded Abbas immediately lift sanctions he imposed on Gaza back in March, but the PA president has said he will wait until his government has full control of the Strip….