GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip – Hamas has cleared out of the Gaza residence of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the most concrete sign yet that the rivals are moving toward reconciliation.
Hamas seized Gaza from Abbas in 2007, leaving him with only parts of the West Bank.
Repeated reconciliation efforts failed, but the current one might have better chances. Hamas is mired in a crippling financial crisis, while Abbas' attempts to negotiate Palestinian statehood with Israel have failed.
As part of reconciliation, Abbas is to form a unity government by late May, followed by elections in 2015.
Hamas security seized Abbas' residence in the 2007 takeover. On Wednesday, troops loaded desks and mattresses onto pickup trucks that drove out of the gated villa. An official said the handover of the home requires a government decision.