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Hamas rejects disarmament talk ahead of reconciliation deadline

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image Palestinian children greet fighters from the armed wing of Islamist movement Hamas in the Gaza Strip on July 20, 2017 (AFP Photo/SAID KHATIB)

Gaza City (Palestinian Territories) (AFP) - Palestinian movement Hamas again refused to disarm on Monday ahead of a key reconciliation deadline, instead threatening to carry out attacks against Israel in the West Bank.

By Friday, the Islamists are due to hand over control of the Gaza Strip to the internationally recognised Palestinian government, based in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

But the future of their armed wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, remains unclear.

"The weapons of the resistance are a red line that is non-debatable," Khalil al-Hayya, deputy head of Hamas in Gaza, told a press conference, referring to the Qassam Brigades.

"These weapons will be moved to the West Bank to fight the (Israeli) occupation. It is our right to resist the occupation until it ends."

Around 400,000 Israelis live in the West Bank, in settlements considered illegal under international law, alongside around three million Palestinians.

In Gaza, which Hamas has ruled since seizing it in 2007, there are no settlers after Israel withdrew in 2005.

The United States and Israel have said they will reject any reconciliation agreement leading to a unity government including Hamas unless it disarms.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas has also said there will only be one security force in the Palestinian territories.

The reconciliation agreement signed on October 12 in Cairo does not specify a future for the Qassam Brigades.

Also on Monday a delegation from Egyptian intelligence arrived in Gaza, as they seek to push forward with the agreement they brokered.

"We are working with everyone and we are optimistic of implementing reconciliation, achieving Palestinian unity and ending the suffering of the Palestinian citizens," an Egyptian security official told AFP.

 

 

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