Hamas and Fatah sign unity deal

Posted October 13, 2017

He also said that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas - who heads both the PA and the Ramallah government - had instructed members of the Fatah delegation to "end the state of Palestinian division once and for all".

The deal envisages that the national unity government will have full powers in all Palestinian territories - in the West Bank and Gaza - by December 1.

"President Abbas has repeatedly stressed his readiness to visit Gaza", Majid al-Fitiani, secretary of Fatah's Revolutionary Council, told Anadolu Agency on Thursday.

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Fatah, the more moderate of the two groups, previously controlled Gaza but was ousted by Hamas a decade ago, leaving Palestine split in two. Abbas has said he would not take over Gaza until Hamas gave up its weapons.

Egyptian chief of intelligence, Khalid Fawzi, presided over the signing as Hamas' representative, Saleh al-Arouri, and Fatah's negotiator, Azzam al-Ahmed, signed on. In June 2007, its militants seized power in the Gaza Strip. Internal Palestinian strife has been a major obstacle to peacemaking, with Hamas having fought three wars with Israel since 2008 and continuing to call for its destruction. Direct negotiations began on Tuesday, with a marathon second day stretching into the early hours of Thursday.

But the move was seen as mainly symbolic, with Hamas still effectively in charge in the Palestinian enclave of two million people bordered by Egypt, Israel and the Mediterranean Sea.

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The U.S. says it wants the Palestinian Authority to take control of Gaza again.

Sticking points include control over the arsenal of Hamas' armed wing and the fate of thousands of Hamas public servants.

Last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who met with Sissi in NY last month, denounced the reconciliation efforts, saying any future Palestinian government must disband the Hamas terror group's armed wing and sever its ties with Iran.

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