Hamas, Fatah reach agreement in Palestinian reconciliation talks

Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah shakes hands with Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza City on October 2

Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah shakes hands with Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza City on October 2

The Palestinian group Hamas says it has reached an agreement with rival group Fatah, ending a decade-long rift.

Details of the agreement have not yet been released and a press conference was being planned for Thursday at 1000 GMT in the Egyptian capital, where talks have been taking place since Tuesday.

Since then, attempts to reconcile the two groups and form a Palestinian power-sharing government have stalled.

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The pro-Hamas Palestinian Information Centre announced the agreement, saying details would be revealed at a news conference in Cairo at midday. "Unity and national reconciliation among the Palestinian people are our strategic option for moving forward".

But both sides hope that the deal's proposed deployment of security personnel from the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority to Gaza's borders will encourage Egypt and Israel to ease their tight restrictions at border crossings, a badly needed step to help Gaza revive its economy and improve the living standards of its two million residents. Multiple previous reconciliation talks have failed.

Fatah and Hamas delegates began meeting in Cairo on Tuesday for Egypt-mediated talks on bringing the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip under the control of the Palestinian Authority (PA) government, which is aligned with Fatah. The loss damaged Abbas' credibility in the eyes of the West and Israel, after years of being their main Palestinian diplomatic counterpart.

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The deal would see Hamas, which has the most powerful armed Palestinian faction with an estimated 25,000 well-equipped fighters who have fought three wars with Israel since 2008.

Egypt has also agreed to provide fuel to the Gaza Strip for electricity production.

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

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The talks follow a key breakthrough last week, when PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah visited Hamas-run Gaza for the first time since 2015 and his ministers officially took control of government departments there.

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