Hamas says reached deal with Palestinian rival Fatah

Hamas says reached deal with Palestinian rival Fatah

Rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah signed an agreement Thursday on ending a decade-long split following talks mediated by Egypt in Cairo, with president Mahmud Abbas calling it a "final" accord.

Cairo is now leading efforts to heal a decade-long political split between Gaza-based Hamas and the West Bank-based Fatah movement of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

The 2011 agreement stipulated that legislative, presidential and national council elections should be conducted within one year of its signing. Since then, attempts to reconcile the two groups and form a Palestinian power-sharing government have stalled.

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.

Fayez Abu Eita, a Fatah spokesman and member of the party's delegation in Cairo, told AFP details would be announced at a press conference later on Thursday.

Hamas's capture of Gaza in 2007 ended an earlier - if short-lived - unity government established after Hamas swept 2006 Palestinian legislative polls.

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Islamist movement Hamas is blacklisted as a terrorist organisation by the United States and the European Union.

Yahya Sinwar, Hamas's acting chief in Gaza, for his part, congratulated Abbas on the watershed agreement.

Faced with increasing isolation and a severe electricity shortage, Hamas has reached out to Cairo for help, hoping to have the Rafah border with Egypt opened.

There was no indication that an understanding had been reached on the fate of Hamas's armed wing, a sticking point which analysts have said could yet scupper reconciliation efforts. "Unity and national reconciliation among the Palestinian people are our strategic option for moving forward".

Hamas does not recognise Israel and has fought three wars with the Jewish state since 2008.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned Palestinians against "bogus reconciliations", and reiterated Tel Aviv's demand for the disbandment of Hamas's military arm.

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