BEIT LAHIYA, Gaza Strip (AP) — The Latest on the ambitious Palestinian reconciliation effort underway as rival factions meet in Gaza (all times local):
Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah has opened his trip to the Gaza Strip for meetings with rival faction with a message of reconciliation.
Minutes after entering the coastal territory, Hamdallah told a crowd of Fatah and Hamas officials that "the only way to statehood is through unity."
Hamdallah is leading a delegation from the West Bank to Gaza on Monday in the most ambitious attempt at reconciliation between the rival Palestinian factions since Hamas seized control of Gaza a decade ago.
He said: "We are coming to Gaza again to deepen the reconciliation and end the split."
Hamdallah also added that Hamas' willingness to compromise is important "and we will build more on it." He called on the international community to press Israel to ease a blockade on Gaza.
The Palestinian prime minister has arrived in Gaza for the most ambitious attempt yet to reconcile the rival Palestinian factions.
Rami Hamdallah drove through the Erez Crossing on Monday, heading a large delegation of Fatah officials from the West Bank trying to end a 10-year rift with Gaza's Hamas rulers.
In a significant concession, Hamas has offered to turn over all governing responsibilities to Hamdallah. But key sticking points, primarily Hamas' refusal to disarm its powerful military wing, are likely to complicate or even derail the reconciliation efforts in the coming weeks.
Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007 after overrunning the Fatah-led forces of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas' Palestinian Authority has since governed only in autonomous enclaves of the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
Repeated attempts to reconcile have failed.