Hamas says it'll return Abbas's Gaza Strip villa

The residence was seized by Hamas gunmen during the 2007 coup that drove the PA out of the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas_311 (photo credit: Reuters)
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas_311
(photo credit: Reuters)
Hamas has decided to give back the villa belonging to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Gaza City, Hamas official Khalil al- Haya announced Saturday.
Hamas militiamen seized the villa during the 2007 coup they staged against the PA in the Gaza Strip. Abbas’s residence and other PA installations have since been occupied by Hamas officials and activists.
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The villa was empty when it was seized by Hamas. Abbas has since been living in his other house in Ramallah.
Haya said that Abbas’s villa would be handed over to Fatah representatives in the Gaza Strip. He said the decision was taken following a meeting of Fatah and Hamas officials in Gaza City to discuss the implementation of last year's Egyptian-brokered reconciliation agreement between the two parties.
Hamas was eager to implement the reconciliation pact to end the split between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, Haya said.
He added that Hamas also had no objections to the opening of offices belonging to the Palestinian Central Elections Commission in the Gaza Strip. The commission has been entrusted with preparing for long overdue presidential and parliamentary elections in the Palestinian territories.
The PA leadership is hoping that that the vote would be held as early as May 2012.
However, several Palestinian groups have expressed skepticism over the proposed date, saying the gap between Hamas and Fatah remains as wide as ever on many important issues.
It is not clear at this stage whether Hamas would also be returning the homes of other top Palestinian officials who fled the Gaza Strip before and during the coup.