Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah reach agreement in Cairo

Haniyeh Hamdallah

Rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah have reached agreement on aspects of their reconciliation bid during talks mediated by Egypt in Cairo this week, Hamas said on Thursday.

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.

Tahir en-Nunu, press adviser to Hamas ' political Bureau president Ismail Heniye, said, "Heniyye declares that Hamas and Fatah reached an agreement in morning at time of Egypt's mediation".

According to a Palestinian source close to the Cairo talks, the agreement calls for the Fatah-led Palestinian unity government to assume full political and administrative control of the Gaza Strip by Dec.1.

Details of the deal were announced at a news conference in Cairo, where the negotiators were meeting.

Fatah's Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told reporters that he welcomed the agreement.

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Two weeks before this, another meeting will be held in Cairo (on November 14) between representatives of all Palestinian factions, the same source said, adding that this meeting would discuss "mechanisms" for implementing the reconciliation agreement.

Israel viewed the Palestinian accord warily, saying it must abide by previous worldwide agreements and terms set out by the Quartet of Middle East peace mediators - including the recognition of Israel and the disarming of Hamas.

The sides also agreed on handing over the Rafah crossing on the border between Egypt and Gaza to the presidential guard, controlled by the Palestinian administration in the West Bank.

The publicly-released parts of the agreement did not specify what would happen to Hamas' armed wing.

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

But the move was seen as mainly symbolic, with Hamas still effectively in charge in the Palestinian enclave of two million people bordered by Egypt, Israel and the Mediterranean Sea.

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