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Fatah, Hamas sign reconciliation deal in Cairo

Fatah, Hamas sign reconciliation deal in Cairo

Palestinian rival factions Hamas and Fatah have reached a deal over political reconciliation, Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh said in a statement on Thursday without providing further details.

The deal is just an early step in a longer process that could end a decade-long split that has almost paralyzed Palestinian political leadership and increased the misery for Gazans in need of jobs and aid.

Under the emerging agreement, Hamas would hand over responsibilities of governing Gaza to the West Bank-based government of Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah.

Multiple previous reconciliation talks have failed. Fatah - which controls the West Bank - and Hamas - which controls Gaza - have been separated since a bloody near-civil war in 2007.

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

The agreement is believed to include transfering administration of the border crossing between Gaza strip and Egypt to a unity government.

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"The two sides agreed in principle to allow the legitimate Palestinian government to return to Gaza in accordance with [Palestinian] law", Azzam al-Ahmad, who led Fatah's delegation to the Cairo talks, declared at a Thursday press conference.

With Hamas in control, conditions in Gaza deteriorated.

But the move was seen as mainly symbolic, with Hamas still effectively in charge in the Palestinian enclave of two million people bordered by Egypt, Israel and the Mediterranean Sea.

Hamas does not recognise Israel and has fought three wars with the Jewish state since 2008. Unemployment is high, and electricity and clean water are scarce.

Both parties arrived in Cairo two days ago to resume reconciliation talks after announcing the Palestinian Concession Government assuming Gaza Strip affairs.

But one central issue has yet to be discussed: the fate of Hamas' militant wing and cache of rockets and weapons. Ahead of the negotiations in Cairo, Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu warned against "fake reconciliations" and stated once again that Israel demands the demilitarization of Hamas.


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