Hamas and Fatah sign unity deal

PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah shakes hands with Hamas chief Ismail Hani

The Western-backed mainstream Fatah party lost control of Gaza to Hamas, considered a terrorist group by the West and Israel, in fighting in 2007.

He went on to say that, according to the terms of the deal, Presidential Guard units linked to the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority (PA) would be deployed along Gaza's southern border with Egypt no later than November 1.

With Hamas in control, conditions in Gaza deteriorated.

He also pointed out that the government will manage the institutions and bodies of all ministries without exception, as well as the full agreement on the management of all crossings, whether with Israel or Egypt, most importantly the Rafah crossing.

Palestinian negotiators from rival Hamas and Fatah factions have signed a reconciliation deal at a short ceremony in Cairo. 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.

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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. Unemployment is high, and electricity and clean water are scarce.

Celebrations broke out in the Gaza Strip after the announcement of the deal, with residents waving flags of Egypt, Palestine, Fatah and Hamas. Egypt has helped to mediate several attempts to reconcile the movements and form a power-sharing government.

The deal includes 3,000 members of the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority's police force redeploying to Gaza, a member of the negotiating team told AFP on condition of anonymity. Abbas has said he would only return to Gaza if Hamas hands over power, while Hamas has said the military wing is not up for discussion.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made demilitarization one of his criteria for entering any talks with the Palestinians, a view also held by the Quartet - the US, United Nations, Europe Union, and Russian Federation. And the Palestinian Authority is hoping that reconciliation will allow the Palestinian territories to have a unified voice to press Israel for an independent state.

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