Palestinian PM wrap up Gaza visit

MIDEAST-RAMALLAH-JORDAN-ABDULLAH ENSOUR-VISITPalestinian unity government Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and his 12 West Bank ministers wrapped up a one-day visit to the Gaza Strip, during which they held the first ever meeting of the cabinet in the besieged enclave.

The visit was in general positive and included a series of understandings that would enable the government to take over its responsibilities in the territory, spokesman for the unity government, Ihab Bseisso, told Xinhua over phone.

Since June 2007, Hamas has been ruling the Gaza Strip after it routed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s security forces. Hamas agreed to hand over Gaza rule to the unity government in a bid to empower reconciliation and end internal rifts.

“The cabinet meeting which was held at President Abbas’s house in Gaza city and the following meetings with Palestinian factions’ leaders pave the ground for a new era of Palestinian unity that is based on the principle of ending internal division,” said Bseisso.

The unity government was formed in June after an agreement was reached between Hamas and Abbas’s Fatah Party. Previous meetings were held via video conferencing.

Before starting their meeting, Hamdallah and his cabinet ministers toured the northern and eastern areas of the Gaza Strip and saw the mass destruction caused by Israel’s large-scale offensive on the enclave, which lasted for 50 days and ended Aug 26.

On Thursday evening, Hamdallah held two separate meetings: the first was with representatives of political powers and factions and the second was with deputy chief of Hamas movement Ismail Haneya and two other top leaders of the movement.

On Sunday, President Abbas and his cabinet will head to Cairo to join the Norwegian-sponsored conference of donors to finance the process of reconstructing the Gaza Strip. Hamdallah said that reconstructing the Gaza Strip is on the top of his government’s priorities.