Palestinian political parties sign reconciliation agreement


English edition of Asharq Al-Awsat - the world's premier pan-Arab daily.

Palestinian rivals Fatah and Hamas began detailed negotiations behind closed doors in Cairo on Tuesday on ending their crippling decade-long split, a delegate said.

Analysts said the deal is more likely to stick than earlier ones, given Hamas's growing isolation and realization of how hard Gaza, its economy hobbled by border blockades and infrastructure shattered by wars with Israel, was to govern and rebuild.

In a statement, an official source at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reaffirmed the Kingdom's hope that this significant breakthrough would fulfill the aspirations of the Palestinian people for achieving national unity and ending the Palestinian internal division, in order to enable the Palestinian people to regain their legitimate rights in line with the worldwide resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative.

Signed in the presence of Egyptian General Intelligence Director Khaled Fawzy, the agreement includes deployment of 3,000 Palestinian Authority police officers in Gaza, to patrol the borders with Israel and also the Rafah crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, and the handover of Gaza administration from Hamas to the Palestinian unity government no later than December 1.

The deal brokered by Egypt bridges a bitter gulf between the Western-backed mainstream Fatah party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas, a movement designated as a terrorist group by Western countries. Abbas oversees autonomous enclaves in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Hamas has thousands of well-equipped fighters who have fought three wars with Israel since 2008.

A source close to the negotiation indicated that Fatah will now commence similar negotiations with other Palestinian factions in Gaza in an attempt to build a more unified national government.

Hamas and Fatah agreed in 2014 to form a national reconciliation government, but the deal soon dissipated in mutual recriminations with Hamas continuing to dominate Gaza.