Palestine: Rival factions Hamas and Fatah sign reconciliation deal
Hamas and Fatah, the rival political factions in Palestine, have announced a reconciliation deal brokered by Egypt. This comes after Hamas agreed to give away administrative control of the Gaza Strip, which it has controlled for over a decade. Western-backed Fatah had lost control over Gaza to Hamas following a brief civil war in 2007. The West and Israel consider Hamas a terrorist organization.
Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh announced the reconciliation but gave no details about a deal on administrative, security and border crossing arrangements. Last month, Hamas agreed to cede power in Gaza to the Fatah-backed government of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Since the 2007 civil war, Palestinians in Gaza and West Bank have been ruled separately.
Abbas said he "welcomes the agreement reached in Cairo." "I received a detailed report from the Fatah delegation about what was agreed and I considered it the final agreement to end the division," he added. Abbas is reportedly planning to visit Gaza, potentially his first trip to the territory in a decade. More details about the Fatah-Hamas agreement are awaited.
Hamas has fought three wars with Israel. Israel has subjected the Gaza Strip to severe restrictions because it was under Hamas control. Since 2006, a sea blockade on has been imposed by Israel and Egypt on Gaza to prevent militant attacks. The blockade has led to serious electricity and fuel shortages in Gaza, a large part of whose population lives on food aid.