Rival Palestinian leaders from the West Bank and Gaza Strip have decided to form a national unity government within the “next five weeks,” officials said early on Wednesday.

The agreement, between members of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation and Hamas, was reached following talks in Gaza City that began on Tuesday evening, a member of the PLO who wished to remain anonymous told AFP.

“There has also been progress on the holding of future elections and the composition of the PLO,” said the Palestinian official without giving further details.

Talks, which are taking place behind closed doors, are expected to continue throughout Wednesday.

It is not the first time that a national unity government has been announced by the rival factions, and on several previous occasions attempts to form an administration have collapsed.

Fatah, the PLO’s main component, and Hamas signed a reconciliation accord in Cairo in 2011 aimed at ending the political divide between Gaza and the Palestinian Authority-ruled West Bank.

But deadlines have come and gone without any progress in implementing provisions of the accord.

Azzam al-Ahmad, a senior figure in president Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party, led the team, which the Fatah team, which was greeted by Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and the movement’s deputy leader, Mussa Abu Marzuq.

Haniyeh on Tuesday had called for cementing Palestinian reconciliation “in order to form one government, one political system and one national program.”

Ahmad said: “I am happy that the time has come to end divisions.”

The latest announcement of a deal comes as US-brokered peace talks with Israel teeter on the edge of collapse.

The Palestinians met just a week before the end of a nine-month target originally set for an Israeli-Palestinian deal.

Hamas is totally opposed to the Palestinian negotiations with Israel.