Hamas Says Deal Reached in Palestinian Reconciliation

People gather as the convoy of Palestinian prime minister Rami Hamdallah arrives to take control of Gaza from Hamas in the northern part of the territory

Rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah signed an agreement Thursday on ending a decade-long split following talks mediated by Egypt in Cairo, with president Mahmud Abbas calling it a "final" accord.

Hamas's agreement to transfer administrative powers in Gaza to a Fatah-backed government marked a major reversal, prompted partly by its fears of financial and political isolation after its main patron and donor, Qatar, plunged in June into a major diplomatic dispute with key allies like Saudi Arabia.

While details about the deal are still scarce, it appears that Fatah - the ruling party in the West Bank - will have more control over Gaza, run by Hamas since the split.

"The legitimate government, the government of consensus, will return according to its responsibilities and according to the law", Fatah delegation chief Azzam Al-Ahmed said at the signing ceremony in Cairo.

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Egypt has been keen to improve security in the Sinai Peninsula which borders Gaza and where jihadist rebels have fought a long-running insurgency.

Islamist movement Hamas is blacklisted as a terrorist organisation by the United States and the European Union.

MK Tzipi Livni called the reconciliation talks in Cairo "an opportunity for change", but also called on Hamas to disarm.

Egypt has also agreed to provide fuel to the Gaza Strip for electricity generation.

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Since then, the relations between the two rival factions have been very tense and all attempts to reconcile them over the past years have failed to bring fruit.

A permanent opening of the Rafah crossing would mean an end to the crippling Gaza border blockade which prevents free trade and bars the vast majority of Gaza's 2 million people from leaving the territory.

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

The latest reconciliation efforts come as US President Donald Trump has sought to revive peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians and met separately with Abbas and Netanyahu on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in NY last month.

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With Hamas in control, conditions in Gaza deteriorated.

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