Palestinian rivals Fatah, Hamas sign pact

Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas sign reconciliation deal in major breakthrough

A Hamas official told Reuters that details are expected to be released at a noon news conference in Cairo, where unity talks between the rival factions began on Tuesday.

Fatah and Hamas met over the past two days in Cairo as part of reconciliation talks sponsored by Egypt.

The move should ensure a unity government will once again administer both the West Bank and Gaza after the rift caused by militant group Hamas' takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2007.

Hamas's agreement to transfer administrative powers in Gaza to a Fatah-backed government marked a major reversal, prompted partly by its fears of financial and political isolation after its main patron and donor, Qatar, plunged in June into a major diplomatic dispute with key allies like Saudi Arabia.

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

Also under the deal, Gaza's border crossings with Israel and Egypt will be handed back to the Palestinian Authority in the coming weeks, with a November 1 deadline, according to Ahmad.

Fatah officials said the two sides agreed that the Palestinian Authority would take over responsibility for Gaza's border crossings no later than November 1 and that full governing responsibilities would be handed over to the Palestinian Authority by the beginning of December.


Abbas welcomed the deal in comments to AFP and said he considered it a "final agreement to end the division" - though many details remain to be resolved and previous reconciliation attempts have repeatedly failed.

He added that sanctions taken by Abbas against Gaza will also soon be lifted.

In a press statement, Egypt expressed its deep appreciation to the Fatah and Hamas movements for the positive spirit of the two delegations which led to reaching this agreement.

Gaza, which sits on the Mediterranean coast and is fenced in by heavily-patrolled barriers on three sides bordering Israel and Egypt, has been a frequent battleground over the past decade, during which Hamas has fought three wars with Israel.

Sticking points include control over the arsenal of Hamas' armed wing and the fate of thousands of Hamas public servants.

"Israel will examine developments in the field and act accordingly", said a statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office.

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