GAZA (Reuters) – Rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas agreed on Wednesday to delay the final transfer of power from the Hamas Gaza Strip to the Western-backed Palestinian government for 10 days until December 10 to allow time for " complete the arrangements, "officials said.
Factions signed a reconciliation agreement negotiated by Egypt last month after Hamas agreed to hand over administrative control of Gaza, including the key Rafah border crossing, a decade after take the enclave in a civil war.
The agreement closes a bitter chasm between the West-backed Fatah party, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas, an Islamist movement designated as a terrorist group by Western countries and Israel.
] The agreement establishes that Hamas, which dissolved its administration, will complete the transfer before December 1, but disputes over the Transfer cases have emerged in recent days and Cairo sent a security delegation superior to the territory to try to resolve the standstill.
In a brief joint statement, Fatah and Hamas said they had asked Egypt to delay the timetable from December 1 to "complete the arrangements to successfully conclude the reconciliation steps to which the Palestinian people aspire."
The finalization will also strengthen the position of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in any possible resumption of the stalled peace process with Israel, badysts say.
At first it was not clear whether the extension of the deadline would prevent the 40,000 to 50,000 employees hired by Hamas from receiving their November salaries on time.
Hamas has demanded that Abbas lift the sanctions it has imposed on Gaza, such as cutting the salaries of public servants hired by the Palestinian Authority and limiting electricity imported from Israel to Gaza.
The Palestinian Authority has demanded that it must have full control of Gaza in order to discharge its administrative powers there and the non-payment of wages could jeopardize other reconciliation measures.
Early on Wednesday, tension between the two factions increased when Hamas refused to allow Palestinian Authority employees to return to their jobs in three ministries as mandated by the government.
Report of Nidal Almughrabi; Ralph Boulton edition