Rival Palestinian political factions Fatah and Hamas agreed on Tuesday to form a national unity government within three months, a move that, if seen through, would end a six-year rift between the Islamist and secular parties.
Representatives of the two Palestinian groups met in Cairo on Tuesday for the first time in months, in a bid to mend fences and form a single government. Hamas and Fatah have been at loggerheads since the violent Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip in June 2007 following Hamas’s surprising success in national elections the year before.
Senior Hamas official Moussa Abu Marzouk said following the talks in Egypt that the two groups have agreed to reconcile and form a unity government in the coming months, according to Israel Radio.
Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmed said both sides agreed on a timetable that begins with creating laws to govern elections.
Fatah Central Committee member Ahmed was quoted by the Palestine News Network earlier on Tuesday as saying that his party would discuss prospective ministerial candidates with Hamas during the meeting. Abu Marzouk was quoted saying that the exact composition of that government was not discussed during the meeting.
Unity talks stalled after the last set of meetings, held in Cairo in February, failed to mend the rift between Fatah and Hamas and send the Palestinians to parliamentary elections. The two parties signed a reconciliation deal in 2011, but it has yet to be implemented and the particulars of the agreement remain undefined. The two parties were split on issues regarding the Palestine National Council, the PLO parliament, and legislative and presidential elections in the Palestinian territories.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announced last month that he had started conducting negotiations to form a national unity government with Hamas, Palestinian news agency Wafa reported. Abbas also called on all other Palestinian parties to take part in the political process.
Abbas’s party, Fatah, which would like to hold general elections as soon as possible, had required in the past that the unity government — the formation of which was decided on last year — serve as an interim government for no more than three months, and be tasked solely with preparing for national elections.
Israel has said it will not deal with a government that includes an unreformed Hamas. The Islamist group remains formally committed to the destruction of Israel.
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