Hamas has decided to officially join a Palestinian Authority unity government with rival Fatah, according to a Tuesday report by the Palestinian Ma’an news agency.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas has in recent days spoken by telephone with Hamas head Khaled Mashaal and Hamas leader in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh, who confirmed the intention of Hamas to join a national unity government, according to sources cited in the report.
The same sources also indicated that Abbas intends to announce national elections, repeatedly delayed since 2009, after a December 21 meeting of the foreign ministers of Arab nations.
The relationship between Fatah and Hamas, longtime political rivals, took a drastic turn for the worse in 2006 after Hamas won parliamentary Palestinian elections and subsequently took over the Gaza Strip by force. Since then, attempts at reconciliation, including a Cairo-brokered reconciliation agreement in 2011 and an agreement in 2012, did not lead to a unity government between the two parties.
Tensions between the two rival factions have intensified since the renewal of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. The latest attempt at reconciliation took place in Qatar last week, at a conference headed by exiled former Israeli-Arab MK Azmi Bishara.