Wednesday, 18 October, 2017

Palestinians Strike Gaza Unity Deal After Marathon Cairo Talks

Haniyeh Hamdallah Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah shakes hands with Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza City
Dexter Carr | 13 October, 2017, 00:37

Rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas have signed a reconciliation deal - the biggest step forward in intra-Palestinian relations in a decade.

Further information will be announced at a noon news conference (10GMT) in Cairo, where unity talks between the rival factions began on Tuesday.

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.

"Our future is one", senior Hamas leader Saleh al-Arouri said in televised remarks Thursday after two days of marathon talks mediated by Egypt.

"Egypt's involvement and the entry of the PA into Gaza is an opportunity for change, but as long as Hamas remains an armed terrorist organization, Palestinian reconciliation is a legitimacy for Hamas and terrorism rather than a takeover [by the PA]".

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has said he wants weapons to be under unified control.

Sanctions taken by Abbas against Hamas-controlled Gaza will also soon be lifted, the Fatah official said.

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"We also agreed that the [Ramallah-based Palestinian] government would operate Gaza's Rafah border crossing with Egypt and all of Gaza's crossings with Israel", al-Ahmad added.

Local media reports that Mr Abbas is to travel to Gaza in the next few weeks, which would mark his first visit to the Strip in 10 years.

"Hamas and Fatah will hold a fresh round of talks in Cairo on December 1 to assess implementation of the agreement", the source said. Hamas and Israel fought three devastating wars over the past decade.

Attempts at reconciliation in recent years fell apart.

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.

Thousands of Palestinians took to the streets across Gaza on Thursday in celebration of the unity pact, with loudspeakers on open cars blasting national songs, youths dancing and hugging, and many waving Palestine and Egyptian flags.

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