Ready to hand over Gaza to Palestinian President: Hamas

Abbas’s leadership to be tested

Hamas added that it was also willing to hold talks with Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas' movement, Fatah, to end a decade-long split, AFP reported.

Hamas has run Gaza since 2007, when it forced troops loyal to Abbas from the coastal enclave a year after defeating his Fatah movement in parliamentary elections.

Repeated attempts at reconciliation between the two factions have failed in the past.

"Hamas wants to show it was the first to take steps [towards reconciliation], so if talks in Gaza don't come out [with an agreement], Hamas can say it was not at fault and put it at the foot of Abbas' government", Shikaki told Anadolu Agency.

Mahmoud Aloul, a senior-level official from Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas's movement, applauded Hamas's new approach.

Mending fences with Western-backed Abbas would be another step in Hamas' diplomatic push to improve relations with its neighbour Egypt, which has kept its frontier with Gaza largely closed and accused the group in the past of aiding Islamist militants in Egypt's Sinai desert, something Hamas denies.

Azzam al-Ahmed, a Fatah participant in the talks, said Hamas and Fatah agreed to meet in Cairo within 10 days, during which time the national unity government should assume responsibility in Gaza.

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In Sunday's statement, Hamas spoke of the "dissolution" of what is known as the administrative committee, which was seen as a rival government to Abbas's administration.

Among the demands are fresh elections in the West Bank and Gaza, which Hamas has boycotted due to it winning the last election that led to the split. Gaza's economy is in tatters and residents of the territory have electricity for only a few hours a day.

Hamas would like Abbas to lift the various punitive measures he has taken against Hamas in Gaza over the past four to five months including cuts to budgets allocated to Gaza for electricity, medical services, salaries and other purposes.

A year later, Hamas drove forces loyal to Fatah from the Gaza Strip assuming near complete administrative control.

However, Bjorn was skeptical if Hamas's announcement on Sunday would lead to a full-fledged reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah.

In exchange, Egypt is supposed to alleviate its blockade of Gaza by opening the Rafah crossing - the only way out of Gaza except through Israel - as well as increase commercial ties with the Strip.

PA officials have said Egypt assured Ramallah it will not reopen the Rafah crossing until Abbas's "legitimate authority" is represented on the border.

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