Fatah, Hamas representatives to meet in Moscow

Representatives of Hamas and Fatah will meet in Moscow on February 29 to discuss the formation of a unified Palestinian government and the rebuilding of Israel’s besieged Gaza, the RIA state news agency has reported, citing the Palestinian ambassador to Russia. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov also confirmed to RIA Novosti that such a meeting was planned.¬†Palestine demands Israel cover Gaza reconstruction costs The Palestinian Authority has demanded that Israel bear the financial burden of rebuilding Gaza and to demonstrate a greater commitment to maintaining the two-state solution. “Israel must be held accountable for the devastation and casualties in the Gaza Strip and assume the responsibility for its reconstruction,” Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said during a meeting with Japanese State Minister for Foreign Affairs Tsuji Kiyoto in Ramallah. Shtayyeh’s government will serve as a caretaker administration until a new government can be formed after he resigned on Monday. Shtayyeh also condemned Israel’s actions, saying that it ”perpetrates severe atrocities against the Palestinian people, fosters apartheid and behaves as if it is immune to legal consequences.” US says Israel has not presented plan to protect civilians in case of Rafah invasion The US has not been presented with any Israeli plan to secure the safety of civilians in Gaza in case of a military invasion on Rafah, the White House said. “We’ve not been presented one. I can’t speak for the Israelis and to what degree their planning has progressed and what that looks like,” said National Security Council spokesman John Kirby at a press briefing. Israel is planning to expand its ground invasion to Rafah, Gaza’s southernmost city along the border with Egypt and home to 1.4 million Palestinians, amid international warnings about the consequences of such a decision. Kirby noted that Israeli PM Netanyahu said that he tasked his generals with coming up with a plan. In a phone call with Netanyahu on February 16, President Joe Biden said the Rafah invasion should not proceed without a plan for the over 1 million Palestinian civilians seeking refuge there. During their call, Biden “reiterated his view that a military operation should not proceed without a credible and executable plan for ensuring the safety of and support for the civilians in Rafah,” said the White House in a statement.