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Hamas and Fatah 'agree deal' for unified Palestinian government

Hamas and Fatah 'agree deal' for unified Palestinian government

Such a move would restore a great deal of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' influence in Gaza while weakening Hamas' control.

Al-Ahmad also praised Egypt's role in helping achieve Palestinian national reconciliation and providing a venue for Hamas-Fatah talks.

Gaza has been subject to an Israeli blockade and Fatah strangulation of electricity and other resources since, which has crippled the economy and left much of the two million strong population dependent on aid.

The meetings in Cairo are centred around implementing the 2011 Cairo Agreement between the two political parties, in hopes of ending the 10-year political schism.

Fatah negotiator Azzam al-Ahmed and Hamas' representative Saleh al-Arouri smiled and shook hands in a short ceremony presided over by Egypt's chief of intelligence, Khalid Fawzi.

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Hamas and Fatah officials held two days of talks in Cairo this week about a Palestinian Authority return to Gaza.

Israel viewed the Palestinian accord warily, saying it must abide by previous worldwide agreements and terms set out by the Quartet of Middle East peace mediators - including the recognition of Israel and the disarming of Hamas. 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. Hamas and Fatah organisations began negotiations on reconciliation last Tuesday through Egypt.

Repeated reconciliation attempts have failed since 2007.

There was no indication that an understanding had been reached on the fate of Hamas's armed wing, a sticking point which analysts have said could yet scupper reconciliation efforts.

Reconciliation could also pose a dilemma for worldwide efforts to reach an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal since Hamas has not recognised Israel, unlike the Abbas-led Palestine Liberation Organisation.

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