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Sunday, February 25, 2018

Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah 'reach deal' in Cairo

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The Palestinian group Hamas says it has reached an agreement with rival group Fatah, ending a decade-long rift.

Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, said details of the deal would be released later on Thursday. Fatah has not commented.

Egypt has been brokering reconciliation talks in Cairo.

Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank have been ruled separately since deadly clashes between the two groups broke out in 2007.

Hamas won parliamentary elections in the occupied territories the previous year, and reinforced its power in Gaza after ousting Fatah from the enclave.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Thursday that the talks had led to a "final agreement" to end the rival split.

"I welcome the agreement," he told the AFP news agency, adding: "I received a detailed report from the Fatah delegation about what was agreed and I considered it the final agreement to end the division."

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

On Wednesday, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the talks in Cairo had been "serious and deep".

"The talks are positive and the Egyptian side is even-handed," he said, according to the Palestinian Information Centre.

Last month, Hamas agreed to dissolve the committee that rules Gaza.

The move had been a key demand of Mr Abbas, whose Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority governs parts of the West Bank.

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah then made a rare trip to Gaza.

He said the Palestinian Authority would begin taking control of Gaza's administrative affairs and "security responsibilities".

Egypt and Israel, Hamas' chief adversary, have maintained a blockade around Gaza since 2006. Hamas calls for Israel's destruction and has fought three wars with the Jewish state.

Israel resolutely opposes any involvement by Hamas in the Palestinian Authority. It considers Hamas a terrorist group and has said it will not deal with a Palestinian government that contains Hamas members.

Hamas as a whole, or in some cases its military wing, is designated a terrorist group by Israel, the US, EU, UK and other powers.

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