Hamas announces reconciliation deal with Palestinian rival Fatah
The leader of Hamas said on Thursday that his group has reached an agreement with the rival Fatah party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas after Egyptian-brokered talks about the terms of control of the Gaza Strip.
"Ismail Haniyeh [Hamas chief] has just announced that an agreement was reached dawn on Thursday between Fatah and Hamas movements under Egyptian auspices", Taher al-Nunu, Haniyeh's media advisor said in a press statement released early Thursday morning.
Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank have been ruled separately since deadly clashes between the two groups broke out in 2007. "We make every effort possible to implement it to start a new chapter in the history of our people", Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem told Reuters.
The PA government cabinet said on Tuesday that if Hamas and Fatah achieve an agreement in Cairo, it is prepared to take full responsibility for Gaza, the official PA news site Wafa reported.
Egypt has been keen to improve security in the Sinai Peninsula which borders Gaza and where jihadist rebels have fought a long-running insurgency.
"The talks are positive and the Egyptian side is even-handed", he said, according to the Palestinian Information Centre.
But last month Hamas agreed to cede powers in Gaza to Mr Abbas' Fatah-led government in a deal mediated by Egypt.
Under the deal, 3,000 Fatah security officers will join the Gaza police force.
The crossing has remained largely closed in recent years.
The talks follow a key breakthrough last week, when PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah visited Hamas-run Gaza for the first time since 2015 and his ministers officially took control of government departments there.
The deal would see Hamas, which has the most powerful armed Palestinian faction with an estimated 25,000 well-equipped fighters who have fought three wars with Israel since 2008. Israel's enmity with Hamas means greater unity with Fatah is unlikely to help any future efforts for a peace deal with Israel.
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