Rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah have reached a deal over political reconciliation, Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh said on Thursday. The accord was brokered by Egypt. A Hamas official told Reuters that details are expected to be released at a news conference in Cairo.
The West-backed Fatah party and Hamas – considered a terrorist group by the West and Israel – have been at loggerheads since 2007, when Hamas violently took control of the Gaza Strip. Since then, deteriorating humanitarian conditions and unemployment have plagued the region, which has about two million people. The two groups have been operating separate administrations, and numerous attempts to reconcile have failed, including one in 2014.
In September, Hamas had agreed to cede power in Gaza to President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah-backed government. Hamas said it was ready to dissolve the committee ruling Gaza, conduct a general election for the first time since 2006 and hold talks with Fatah to end the decade-long split.
Delegations from both sides have been in talks in Cairo this week to work out the details of the administrative handover, including security in Gaza and at border crossings. Under the deal, 3,000 Fatah security officers will join the Gaza police force. Both Hamas and Fatah hope that this will encourage Egypt and Israel to lift their tight restrictions at border crossings – much needed to help Gaza revive its economy.
Israel and Egypt have maintained a land and sea blockade on the Gaza Strip to prevent attacks.