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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 September 2018

Hamas says unity deal at risk if Abbas does not end sanctions

The Islamist group last month agreed to return civilian power in Gaza to Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas's government. But chief among its demands was that Mr Abbas drop a series of measures taken against Gaza, including reductions in energy payments for the enclave

Palestinians waving national and Egyptian flags in Gaza City on October 12, 2017 celebrate the reconciliation agreement between Hamas and Fatah in Egypt. Khalil Hamra / AP
Palestinians waving national and Egyptian flags in Gaza City on October 12, 2017 celebrate the reconciliation agreement between Hamas and Fatah in Egypt. Khalil Hamra / AP

Hamas warned on Tuesday that Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas's delay in easing sanctions on Gaza was putting at risk a landmark unity deal signed last week.

"The continuation of the punitive measures against our people in Gaza a month after the dissolution of the administrative council spoils the general atmosphere for reconciliation," a party spokesman said to Hamas media.

Hamas last month agreed to dissolve its administrative council, seen as a rival government in Gaza, and return civilian power in the enclave to Mr Abbas's Palestinian Authority, a decade after seizing it.

Chief among the group's demands, however, was that Mr Abbas drop a series of measures taken against Gaza.

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Among these were reductions in energy payments for the territory which left its two million residents with only a few hours of mains electricity per day.

Hamas is due to hand over Gaza's border crossings by November 1 ahead of a full transfer of power by December 1.

The Palestinian Authority's top border official visited Gaza on Monday.

Previous reconciliation agreements between Hamas and Mr Abbas's Fatah, based in the occupied West Bank, have collapsed over implementation of specific issues.

Security control of the Gaza Strip is expected to be a major stumbling block, with Hamas refusing to disarm its 25,000-strong armed wing.

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