Hamas: Deal reached with Palestinian rival Fatah

Hamas: Deal reached with Palestinian rival Fatah

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

The agreement was signed by Hamas representative Saleh al-Arouri and Fatah negotiator Azzam al-Ahmed in a short ceremony today (October 12) following two days of talks brokered by Egypt.

"Israel will examine developments in the field and act accordingly", said a statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office.

"All the measures taken recently will end very shortly", Zakaria al-Agha, a senior Fatah leader in the Gaza Strip, told AFP. Hamas and Fatah agreed to transfer administration of Gaza to Union government at latest until December 1st.

The two sides began meeting in the Egyptian capital on Tuesday with the aim of ending the crippling decade-old split between the rival factions.

Hamas seized Gaza from Fatah in a near civil war in 2007 and the two factions have been at loggerheads ever since.

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An Egyptian source close to the talks said intelligence chief Khaled Fawzi had followed the negotiations closely. Internal Palestinian strife has been a major obstacle to peacemaking, with Hamas having fought three wars with Israel since 2008 and continuing to call for its destruction.

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. Israel and Egypt imposed a blockade on the territory, severely restricting Palestinians from leaving the territory and goods from entering.

There was no indication that an understanding had been reached on the fate of Hamas's armed wing, a sticking point which analysts have said could yet scupper reconciliation efforts.

Struggling with the fallout from the border blockade, Hamas has found it increasingly hard to govern or provide basic services, such as electricity, to Gaza's people.

"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.

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