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Palestinian Authority - 2018 Parliamentary Elections

Palestinian factions, including rival groups Hamas and Fatah, agreed to hold a general election no later than at the end of 2018, a joint statement by several groups said on 12 November 2017 following talks in Cairo. Hamas and Fatah signed a reconciliation deal in October 2017 in Cairo-backed talks after Hamas agreed to hand over administrative control of Gaza, including the key Rafah border crossing, a decade after seizing the enclave in a civil war.

The meetings in Cairo centered on implementing the 2011 Cairo Agreement between the two political parties, in hopes of ending the 10-year political schism between Fatah and Hamas. The 2011 agreement stipulated that legislative, presidential and national council elections should be conducted within one year of its signing. The deal would see both Hamas and Fatah form a Palestinian government to appoint the prime minister and ministerial positions.

The Palestinian groups in Cairo said they would defer the choice of a final date for the general election to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Other major points agreed to were the activation of the now mostly defunct Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) as the true representative body for the Palestinian people, and ending the suffering of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip who have been living under a blockade for more than a decade. In addition to the Fatah and Hamas movements, the Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine participated in the two-day Cairo meetings.

The Western-backed mainstream Fatah party lost control of Gaza to Hamas, considered a terrorist group by many in the West and by Israel, in fighting in 2007. But last month Hamas agreed to cede powers in Gaza to Abbas Fatah-backed government in a deal mediated by Egypt. Salah Al-Bardaweel, a Hamas official involved in the talks, called the agreement vague and expressed concern that it was unable to progress on key issues such as lifting sanctions imposed by Abbas and secure full opening of the crossing between Gaza and Egypt. The talks also failed to address security responsibilities in Gaza, which have so far remained in the hands of Hamas-backed security services.

As the struggle for a Palestinian state continues, Hamas, one of the main Palestinian factions, marking the 30th anniversary of its founding with celebrations in the Gaza Strip in December 2017. During the 11 years in which Hamas ran the Gaza Strip, there have been three wars with Israel, in which more than 2,700 Palestinians were killed. After Israel sealed off the territory as part of an ongoing siege, unemployment rose to about 43 percent, among the highest rates in the world, according to the World Bank. Hamas' famous slogan is 'Islam is the solution', but many in Gaza didn't buy it. Hamas failed to fix problems with healthcare, education, the environment, the economy. Under its new political chief Ismail Haniya, who took over from Meshaal, Hamas has given political control of Gaza back to the Palestinian Authority, a move prompted by pressure from the PA and Egypt, which resulted in a reconciliation deal in October 2017.



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