Hamas chief says ‘open’ to one Palestinian govt for Gaza and West Bank

Hamas chief says ‘open’ to one Palestinian govt for Gaza and West Bank

GAZA STRIP (AFP) : Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh said Tuesday he is open to a single Palestinian administration to govern Gaza, which is ruled by the Palestinian group, and the occupied West Bank.

“We have received numerous initiatives concerning the internal (Palestinian) situation and we are open to the idea of a national government for the West Bank and Gaza,” Haniyeh said in a televised address.

Hamas has controlled the Gaza Strip since winning the 2006 Palestinian elections, which were followed by violent clashes with the Fatah party of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.

Multiple attempts at reconciliation between the factions have failed, while Abbas’s popularity as head of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank has plummeted.

Future governance of Gaza has been raised repeatedly during nearly three months of war between Hamas and Israel, which has vowed to crush the group.

The United States has stressed Palestinians must be part of any post-war administration, but the future role of the internationally-recognised Palestinian Authority remains unclear.

In Haniyeh’s address, broadcast by Al Jazeera, the Hamas chief also addressed discussions over a second possible pause to the fighting.

A previous truce paved the way for nearly half of the 250 hostages abducted from Israel on October 7 to be released by Hamas.

“The enemy’s prisoners will only be released on terms set by the resistance,” Haniyeh said, without further detail.

Some 129 hostages still remain captive in Gaza.