Hamas, Fatah signed a reconciliation deal in Cairo

AFP news agency, Al Jazeera, Agencies

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

Rami Hamdallah will travel to Gaza today to advance a fresh effort at reconciling Fatah and Hamas. The two rival administrations have been split since a civil war in 2007.

Mr Hamdallah’s trip to Gaza will be his first in two years. It follows Hamas’ surprising announcement by earlier this month that it will dissolve its administration and embrace fresh efforts at reunification with Fatah.

Hamas’ motivations for reconciliation are pragmatic; economic and social conditions in Gaza are abominable. Severe poverty, an unemployment rate over 40%, poor water quality and access, and limited electricity have caused a state of desperation in the territory. Restrictions imposed on Gaza by Fatah earlier this year, and blockades by Egypt and Israel, have contributed to these conditions.

Despite Hamas’ stated willingness to reconcile with Fatah, reunification remains difficult. Discussions between the two have broken down six times in the past decade, with Hamas’ unwillingness to concede its military control over Gaza a key sticking point. As Hamas’ position on the issue is unlikely to have changed, this olive branch is likely a ploy to relieve pressure.

Palestinian political parties Hamas and Fatah signed a reconciliation deal in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, on Thursday, as part of an effort to end a decade-long rift.

The announcement comes after representatives from both sides convened in Cairo on Tuesday to implement a 2011 unity agreement.

The agreement stipulates that legislative, presidential and national council elections should be conducted within one year of its signing, though details of the reconciliation deal have not yet been made public.

Palestinian rivals Fatah and Hamas have reportedly agreed on the work of a national unity government in Gaza, West Bank of the Jordan river to be operated by the presidential guard of President Mahmoud Abbas.

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