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Hamas, Fatah sign reconciliation deal in Cairo

13 October 2017

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

The move should ensure a unity government will once again administer both the West Bank and Gaza after the rift caused by militant group Hamas' takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2007.

"The legitimate government, the government of consensus, will return according to its responsibilities and according to the law", Fatah delegation chief Azzam Al-Ahmed said at the signing ceremony in Cairo.

Palestinian media reported that the two sides agreed to form a committee to solve, within four months, one very local problem that has dogged previous attempts at reconciliation: what to do about Hamas bureaucrats who will be out of a job when the Palestinian Authority resumes its rule in Gaza.

Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas told AFP on Thursday, "I welcome the agreement".

A split between Palestine's two major forces, Fatah and Hamas, occurred after the parliamentary elections in Palestine in 2006 when Hamas won.

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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.

Abbas has tried numerous times without success to fix the rift, in part to counter Israeli assertions that peace negotiations are pointless because he can't ensure that any treaty will also hold in Gaza.

Hamas does not recognise Israel and has fought three wars with the Jewish state since 2008.

Reconciliation could also pose a dilemma for global efforts to reach an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal since Hamas has not recognised Israel, unlike the Abbas-led Palestine Liberation Organisation.

Last week, Palestinian Authority prime minister Rami Hamdallah visited Gaza for the first time since 2015 and his ministers took formal control of government departments in the territory.

Saleh al-Arouri, deputy head of Hamas's influential Political Bureau, also voiced appreciation for the role played by Egypt in sponsoring inter-Palestinian dialogue.

Hamas, Fatah sign reconciliation deal in Cairo