Published: Thu, October 12, 2017
Global Media | By Meredith Barber

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh says deal reached with rival Fatah on Gaza

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh says deal reached with rival Fatah on Gaza

Rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah have reached a deal over political reconciliation, Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh said in a statement today, without providing further details about the accord brokered by Egypt.

The pro-Hamas Palestinian Information Centre announced the agreement, saying details would be revealed at a news conference in Cairo at midday.

Since then, attempts to reconcile the two groups and form a Palestinian power-sharing government have stalled. "We make every effort possible to implement it to start a new chapter in the history of our people", Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem told Reuters.

The West Bank and the Gaza Strip have remained politically and administratively divided since 2007 when Hamas wrested control of the strip from Fatah following several days of street fighting.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi said on Sunday the Egypt-backed reconciliation talks between the PA and Hamas are "preparation" for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.

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

An Egyptian source close to the talks said intelligence chief Khaled Fawzi had followed the talks closely.

Fatah and Hamas delegates began meeting in Cairo on Tuesday for Egypt-mediated talks on bringing the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip under the control of the Palestinian Authority (PA) government, which is aligned with Fatah. Meanwhile, Azzam Ahmad, one of the leaders of the Fatah delegation, told Reuters that while the negotiations would include the government offices in Gaza, the main focus would be on the topic of security in Gaza due to its controversial nature. But Hamas would still have the most powerful armed Palestinian faction, whose estimated 25,000 well-equipped fighters have fought three wars with Israel since 2008. "Unity and national reconciliation among the Palestinian people are our strategic option for moving forward".

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