Hamas and Fatah sign agreement on reconciliation

Hamas and Fatah sign agreement on reconciliation

Hamas and Fatah sign agreement on reconciliation

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah (L) shakes hands with Hamas Chief Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza.

On Thursday, Hamas and Fatah signed a landmark reconciliation deal in Cairo aimed at ending ten years of crippling inter-Palestinian political division.

Hamas's capture of Gaza in 2007 ended an earlier - if short-lived - unity government established after Hamas swept 2006 Palestinian legislative polls.

"The dialogue committee for reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas started work under Egyptian sponsorship", the Hamas delegate told AFP.

Under the terms of the deal, the Ramallah-based Palestinian unity government will assume political and administrative responsibility for the Gaza Strip no later than December 1.

After the breakthrough in Cairo, Arab and Palestinian media reported that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to visit the Gaza Strip within a month.

The split has complicated any potential peace negotiations with Israel.

The two sides remain sharply at odds, however, over the future of Hamas's 25,000-strong armed wing, which the Islamists say is non-negotiable. "Qatar has supported and continues to support the Palestinian people in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip", he said.

Newly appointed Hamas deputy leader Salah al-Aruri and the movement's Gaza chief Yahya Sinwar will lead the Hamas delegation, a spokesman said.