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Rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah reach key deal over Gaza

13 October 2017

Palestinian rival factions Hamas and Fatah have reached a deal over political reconciliation, Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh said in a statement on Thursday without providing further details.

Details of the agreement have not yet been released and a news conference was being planned for Thursday at 10:00 GMT in the Egyptian capital, where talks have been taking place since Tuesday.

Cairo is now leading efforts to heal a decade-long political split between Gaza-based Hamas and the West Bank-based Fatah movement of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Hamas's agreement to transfer administrative powers in Gaza to a Fatah-backed government marked a major reversal, prompted partly by its fears of financial and political isolation after its main patron and donor, Qatar, plunged in June into a major diplomatic dispute with key allies like Saudi Arabia.

The Fatah and Hamas delegations arrived in Cairo on Monday and held two days of talks to finalize the reconciliation agreement under the sponsorship of the Egyptian authorities.

The latest reconciliation efforts come as US President Donald Trump has sought to revive peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians and met separately with Abbas and Netanyahu on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in NY last month.

The issue of introducing a joint PA, Hamas presence at Gaza's border crossings is key in efforts to encourage Israel and Egypt to lift the economic blockade that is now in place over the strip.

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However, both Iran and Russian Federation are chief supporters of Assad and have strengthened his control over Syria. HTS wants to continue fighting the government despite the establishment of "de-escalation zones".

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.

"All the measures taken recently will end very shortly", Zakaria al-Agha, a senior Fatah leader in the Gaza Strip, told AFP. In June 2007, its militants seized power in the Gaza 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.

The split has complicated any potential peace negotiations with Israel, as Hamas remains committed to the Jewish state's destruction and has vowed it will not hand over its arsenal as part of a reconciliation deal with the PA.

Attempts at reconciliation in recent years fell apart. Israel and Egypt imposed a blockade on the territory, severely restricting Palestinians from leaving the territory and goods from entering.

The U.S. says it wants the Palestinian Authority to take control of Gaza again.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote on Facebook that any reconciliation deal must make Hamas disarm and "end its war to destroy Israel".

Rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah reach key deal over Gaza