Hamas, Fatah sign reconciliation deal in Cairo

Rival Palestinian groups Fatah and Hamas signed an Egyptian-brokered deal on Thursday to end their decade-old rift and allow a unity government to take administrative control of the Gaza Strip.

According to the agreement, the Western-backed Palestinian Authority will resume all governing responsibilities in Gaza no later than December 1.

The talks between Fatah and Hamas were conducted after Egypt tried several times to resolve the conflict between the two factions and establish a unity government in Gaza and the West Bank. But last month Hamas agreed to cede powers in Gaza to President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah-backed government in a deal mediated by Egypt.

Mr Abbas will visit Gaza in "less than a month", a Fatah official told Agence France-Presse.

Hamas, meanwhile, became increasingly isolated, as Israel and Egypt enforced a Gaza border blockade of the coastal strip.

In a press statement, Egypt expressed its deep appreciation to the Fatah and Hamas movements for the positive spirit of the two delegations which led to reaching this agreement.

Egypt, which hosted a series of meetings between both parties over the past two days, invited Palestinian factions who signed the 2011 Accord to hold their coming meeting on November 21, 2017, said the statement.

While details about the deal are still scarce, it appears that Fatah - the ruling party in the West Bank - will have more control over Gaza, run by Hamas since the split.

However in September Hamas agreed that it would give up its power over Gaza, paving the way for this week's reconciliation talks. Specifically, Fatah will reportedly have joint control over a key Gaza border crossing, and will in return lift some punitive sanctions.

Al-Ahmed highly appreciated the Egyptian role and keenness to achieve Palestinian reconciliation, stressing that Egypt is the sponsor of the Arab national security, including the Palestinian security.

Yahya Sinwar, Hamas's acting chief in Gaza, for his part, congratulated Abbas on the watershed agreement.

Hamas's capture of Gaza in 2007 ended an earlier - if short-lived - unity government established after Hamas swept 2006 Palestinian legislative polls.

  • Rogelio Becker