Hamas, Fatah sign deal on Palestinian reconciliation

Cairo (AFP) – 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.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu strongly condemned the deal, saying it would make peace with his country “much harder to achieve”.

Under the agreement, the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority (PA) is to resume full control of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip by December 1, according to a statement from Egypt’s government.

Abbas welcomed the deal and told AFP he considered it a “final agreement to end the division” — though many details remain to be resolved and previous reconciliation attempts have repeatedly failed.

Israel says Islamist movement Hamas, with whom it has fought three wars since 2008, must disarm and recognise the Jewish state as part of any Palestinian reconciliation deal.

US President Donald Trump is currently seeking to restart frozen peace talks between the Palestinians and Israel.

“Reconciling with mass murderers is part of the problem, not part of the solution,” Netanyahu said in a statement.

The agreement was signed in Cairo by new Hamas deputy leader Salah al-Aruri and Azzam al-Ahmad, head of the Fatah delegation for the talks, at the headquarters of Egypt’s intelligence service, which oversaw the negotiations.

Celebrations broke out in the Gaza Strip after the announcement of the deal, with residents waving flags of Egypt, Palestine, Fatah and Hamas.

“We hope they won’t disappoint our people and break the joy,” said Rahaab Kanaan, 55.

Negotiations are now expected to be held on forming a unity government, with the various Palestinian political movements invited to another meeting in Cairo on November 21.

– Sanctions to end –

An official from Abbas’s Fatah movement said the Palestinian president was planning to soon travel to the Gaza Strip as part of the unity bid, in what would be his first visit in at least a decade.

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