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Who will control Gaza forces?

An Egyptian proposal for a Fatah-Hamas joint security council in the Gaza Strip could pave the way for Palestinian reconciliation.

Meeting in the Gaza Strip, Fatah and Hamas engaged in reconciliation talks this week, announcing that the movements have agreed on national unity. But from there to a detailed and feasible agreement for a unity government, there is still a long way to go. At the heart of the dispute preventing the reconciliation is the question of who will control the security forces in Gaza. According to Israeli assessments, the Hamas military consists of some 20,000 armed members who joined Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades since Hamas staged its coup in Gaza in 2007.

In an interview that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas granted to Egyptian television on Oct. 3, the day of the celebratory meeting in Gaza, he said that he would not agree to accept the "Hezbollah model" in the Gaza Strip. In other words, he rejects the notion of having a civilian government headed by the Palestinian Authority (PA) and at the same time for a political movement to keep its own armed force. "We, in the West Bank, operate according to a single law and a single authority. I order to arrest anyone who holds weapons that is not under the auspices of the law, even if they are Fatah members, and that is what is meant to be," he explained.

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