Developing: Palestinian rivals Fatah and Hamas reach agreement

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Rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas have reached an agreement at talks in Cairo, Egypt, according to Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh.

“Fatah and Hamas reached an agreement at dawn today upon a generous Egyptian sponsorship,” Haniyeh said in a statement.

Details of the agreement have not yet been disclosed but a Hamas official said more information is expected to be released at a noon.

Last week, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah visited Gaza for the first time since 2015 and his ministers officially took control of government departments in the territory. But the move was seen as mainly symbolic, with Hamas still effectively in charge of two million Palestinians.

Under the new deal, 3,000 Fatah security officers are expected to join the Gaza police force but even with this, Hamas would still have the most powerful armed Palestinian faction, with an estimated 25,000 fighters. Both Hamas and Fatah hope this will encourage Egypt and Israel to lift their tight restrictions at border crossings which will improve their economy.

Over the last six months, Gaza has been under heavy pressure from Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas. His punitive measures have included cutting the salaries of employees and reducing electricity supply to Gaza. The deal in Cairo could help alleviate Gaza’s terrible humanitarian conditions, as detailed by the UN.

Hamas and Fatah agreed in 2014 to form a national reconciliation government, but despite that deal, Hamas’s shadow government has continued to rule the Gaza Strip. The Western-backed mainstream Fatah party lost control of the Gaza Strip when Hamas took it over in 2007.  However, last month Hamas agreed to give powers to President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah-backed government.

Hamas is a Palestinian Sunni-Islamic fundamentalist organization which has been labelled a terrorist organization by Israel, the United States and the European Union.

 

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