Although many are surprised that the latest attempt at Fatah-Hamas reconciliation has gotten as far as it has, a formal hand-over of responsibility for the Gaza Strip is set to take place by December 1 as required by the agreement signed in October. But Friday’s deadline will be met with nothing more than the assignment of administrative and civil authority assigned to the PA because on the issue of what is euphemistically referred to as “the armed resistance” against Israel, Hamas refuses to relinquish it arms or its 25,000-strong fighting force. The partial hand-over will take place despite Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s declaration that he will not allow Hamas to retain its arms. An armed Hamas becoming part of the Palestinian unity government presents other problems as well, not the least of which is American law prohibiting US aid from being given to any entity found on the State Department list of terrorist organizations. It is also listed as a terrorist organization by the European Union and Israel. Although the argument is being made that Hamas will be sitting in a government that as a body accepts the preconditions including recognition of Israel, adherence to previously-signed agreements and non-violence so the Palestinian entity should not be penalized, many US lawmakers reject the logic and will demand that Hamas lay down its arms.
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