Hamas, Fatah reach agreement in Palestinian reconciliation talks

Haniyeh Hamdallah

Hamas says that it has reached a reconciliation deal with Fatah, ending a decade-long rift that has left the Palestinian Territories without a unified government.

Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, said that he "welcomes" the Egyptian-sponsored reconciliation signed between Hamas and Fatah in Cairo.

The Western-backed mainstream Fatah party lost control of Gaza to Hamas, considered a terrorist group by the West and Israel, in fighting in 2007.

The 2011 agreement stipulated that legislative, presidential and national council elections should be conducted within one year of its signing.

Palestinian negotiators from rival Hamas and Fatah factions have signed a reconciliation deal at a short ceremony in Cairo.

A senior Palestinian official said Abbas, the leader of Fatah, might visit Gaza in the coming weeks, depending on the successful implementation of the agreement.

Ismail Haniyeh said in a statement that details would be announced in Cairo later on Thursday.

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The official was referring to the diplomatic Quartet on Middle East peace, which includes the United Nations, the United States, the European Union and Russian Federation.

Previous attempts at reconciliation have repeatedly failed, and many analysts are treating the latest bid with caution, waiting to see if actual change will occur on the ground.

He said the unity government would "run all institutions without exception", including all border crossings with Israel and in Rafah, Gaza's only access point with Egypt.

The crossing has remained largely closed in recent years.

The publicly-released parts of the agreement did not specify what would happen to Hamas' armed wing.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote on Facebook that any reconciliation deal must make Hamas disarm and "end its war to destroy Israel".

The readout of the Secretary-General's phone call comes as media outlets are reporting that Egyptian-facilitated talks in Cairo have led to a breakthrough in the talks among Palestinian parties on administration in the Gaza Strip.

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