Hamas, Fatah agree to form unity government: Official

By Ola Attalah, Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah have agreed on forming a national unity government, a Palestinian official said Wednesday.

Rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah have agreed on forming a national unity government, a Palestinian official said Wednesday.

GAZA CITY – Rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah have agreed on forming a national unity government, a Palestinian official said Wednesday.

"The two rivals have agreed during the second dialogue session to immediately start the formation of a national unity government," Mustafa Barghouti of the Palestinian Initiative Party, a member of a Fatah-led delegation that arrived in Gaza on Tuesday for reconciliation talks, told Anadolu Agency.

"They have also agreed to set a date for the legislative and presidential elections," he added.

According to Barghouti, the government will be formed within five weeks and the elections will be held in six months.

Barghouti had earlier told AA that the two rival groups had made tangible progress during their first reconciliation meeting in Gaza, which lasted until the early hours of Wednesday.

"All parties expressed willingness to end Palestinian divisions once and for all," Barghouthi, who attended the Tuesday meeting, said.

Ties have remained strained between Hamas – which governs the Gaza Strip – and Fatah – which runs the Palestinian Authority – since 2007, when Hamas routed pro-Fatah forces and seized control of the entire strip.

Continued conflict between Hamas and Fatah obliged the former to set up its own government in Gaza, while Fatah did the same in Ramallah in the West Bank.

In 2011, the two factions hammered out a reconciliation deal under Egyptian sponsorship. The following year, the two sides agreed to form a unity government – to be headed up by PA President Mahmoud Abbas – to pave the way for parliamentary polls.

The terms of the agreement, however, were never implemented.

Earlier this year, Haniyeh declared 2014 to be "the year of Palestinian reconciliation," announcing that Fatah members who fled the Gaza Strip in 2007 were welcome to return, except for those charged with wrongdoing.

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