Rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas have reached a political reconciliation agreement after two days of Egyptian-brokered talks in Cairo, Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh said in a statement on Thursday. "Fatah and Hamas reached an agreement at dawn today under generous Egyptian sponsorship," Haniyeh said in a statement on the group's official website.
A source close to the negotiations told Ahram Online that a meeting between the two factions will be held to prepare for presidential and legislative elections.
Later on Thursday, Egyptian state TV reported that Cairo has offered to host a meeting on 21 November between “the Palestinian factions” that signed a deal in Cairo in May 2011 to reunify the leadership of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories.
Egypt hailed Fatah and Hamas for their "positive attitude and prioritizing of national interest" during the reconciliation efforts. The two sides agreed to "empower the national unity government to perform its duties in the Gaza Strip as well as the West Bank by 1 December 2017 at the latest," as they continue to tackle all the woes resulting from the years-long rift, state television added.
The cabinet of the Fatah-backed Palestinian government is based in the West Bank. The two movements agreed in 2014 to form a national reconciliation government, but Hamas’s shadow government continued however to rule the Gaza Strip. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will visit Gaza within a month, according to senior Fatah leader Zakaria Al-Agha.
Abbas has not visited the enclave since 2007, when his forces were forced out after Hamas assumed control of the territory. Repeated reconciliation efforts between the two factions had subsequently failed. Under the new deal, the two sides will form a committee to merge employees of the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority with employees hired by Hamas (around 40,000-50,000), the source said, adding that this will include security personnel.
On the fuel crisis in Gaza, the two sides have initially agreed that Egypt and Israel will supply fuel to the enclave until a final deal on the matter is reached. Hamas will hand control of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt to Fatah's Palestinian Authority. "The Palestinian Authority will assume control of the Rafah border according to arrangements with Egypt," the source said.
The deal did not address the issue of arms of resistance. Hamas has thousands of well-equipped fighters who have fought three wars with Israel since 2008. Last month, Hamas handed administrative powers in Gaza to a Fatah-backed government and agreed to hold general elections in order to end the decade-long split.
Rival Palestinian groups Fatah and Hamas reach reconciliation deal in Cairo