Global Statistics

All countries
246,026,077
Confirmed
Updated on October 28, 2021 4:56 pm
All countries
221,211,942
Recovered
Updated on October 28, 2021 4:56 pm
All countries
4,992,349
Deaths
Updated on October 28, 2021 4:56 pm

COVID-19 Global Statistics

All countries
246,026,077
Confirmed
Updated on October 28, 2021 4:56 pm
All countries
221,211,942
Recovered
Updated on October 28, 2021 4:56 pm
All countries
4,992,349
Deaths
Updated on October 28, 2021 4:56 pm

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Hamas has reportedly tentatively agreed to close down its armed wing and hand over its weapons to the Fatah-led Palestine Liberation Organization, according to a report in the Al-Hayat newspaper Friday.

The London-based Arabic newspaper reported that a senior Hamas official in Ramallah said that the terror group will agree to disarm if it can gain representation on the Palestinian legislative council.

A Hamas official denied the new approach, which Al-Hayat said was a result of US President Donald Trump’s December 6 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a move that set the stage for what the organization may view as a new bid to become part of the internationally recognized Palestinian political system.

Only a month ago Hamas’s Gaza chief Yahya Sinwar said that the Palestinian reconciliation process was failing over a dispute about the future of the terror group’s armed forces.

In an official statement Thursday, Hamas spokesman Husam Badran said his organization had received an invitation to attend the PLO Central Council scheduled for January 14, the report said. At the same time, the Secretary of the Executive Committee of the PLO, Saeb Erekat, said that decisions made by the council will be “fateful.”

Masked operatives from the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, a military wing of the Hamas terror group, ride vehicles as they commemorate the 30th anniversary of their group, in Gaza City, December 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

The report contradicts a recent statement made by Hamas deputy political leader Saleh al-Arouri who told Al Jazeera that his movement had no intention to hand over its weapons to the Palestinian Authority. Israeli news outlet Walla speculated that this may highlight a dispute between the local heads of Hamas and those governing the terror group from outside Gaza.

According to the Al-Hayat report, the move to join the PLO is a strategic change led by Sinwar, who is determined to bring about a reconciliation deal with the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority. His decision was reinforced by Trump’s announcement, and he reportedly now sees unity as essential for the future of the Palestinians.

The Palestinian Authority is accountable to the PLO Executive Committee. The PLO is made up of several factions, with Fatah, led by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, as the largest group. Neither Hamas nor Islamic Jihad are currently members of either the PLO or the PA.

Hamas’s new deputy leader Salah al-Arouri (seated L) and Fatah’s Azzam al-Ahmad (seated R) sign a reconciliation deal in Cairo on October 12, 2017, as the two rival Palestinian movements work to end their decade-long split following negotiations overseen by Egypt. (AFP Photo/Khaled Desouki)

An Egyptian-brokered agreement in early October originally set a December 1 deadline for the terror group to fully transfer power in the Gaza Strip back to the Palestinian Authority, but that deadline was repeatedly extended.

Since the start of the latest round of reconciliation talks between the rival Palestinian factions — several others have failed in the past — the question over the fate of Hamas’s 25,000-strong military wing has been a thorny issue between the sides.

In October, Sinwar first floated the idea of unifying Hamas’s armed forces with Fatah’s under the PLO umbrella.

“As a nation, we are still in the throes of our national liberation efforts, and we cannot surrender our weapons,” he was quoted as saying by the Palestinian news agency Ma’an, before adding: “Our weapons must be under the umbrella of the Palestine Liberation Organization.”

But he conditioned the move on Fatah returning to its old strategy of armed struggle against Israel.

The PA announced on Wednesday that it had agreed to restore payments for electricity in Gaza, six months after halting them.

The electricity payments have been a key issue in ongoing efforts at reconciliation between Hamas and Abbas’s Fatah, but they have yet to take effect.

Hamas claimed earlier in December that it had handed over control of all government ministries, but Fatah’s top negotiator later said “obstacles” remained.

Hamas, which seeks the destruction of Israel, has fought three wars with Israel since seizing power from Fatah in the enclave in 2007.

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