Egypt unites Palestinian groups Hamas, Fatah

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

Fatah and Hamas have reached a reconciliation agreement following the talks between the two rival Palestinian factions in Cairo, Hamas' political bureau chief announced this morning.

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

Al-Nuno gave no further details on the content of the deal.

Palestinian sources said conquest and Hamas will organise a press conference on details of agreement at noon.

Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank have been ruled separately since deadly clashes between the two groups broke out in 2007.

Last week, Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah held his first Cabinet meeting in Gaza since the unity government was drawn up in 2014, in a major step towards Palestinian reconciliation.

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah party lost control of Gaza to Hamas in fighting in 2007.

Abbas has insisted that he will only reassume control of Gaza if Hamas hands over power.

Under the deal, 3,000 Fatah security officers will join the Gaza police force.

Egypt has been keen to improve security in the Sinai Peninsula which borders Gaza and where jihadist rebels have fought a long-running insurgency.

Islamist movement Hamas is blacklisted as a terrorist organisation by the United States and the European Union.

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. The loss damaged Abbas' credibility in the eyes of the West and Israel, after years of being their main Palestinian diplomatic counterpart. "Unity and national reconciliation among the Palestinian people are our strategic option for moving forward".

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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