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Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah reach agreement in Cairo

Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah reach agreement in Cairo

Rival groups Hamas and Fatah have reached a preliminary, partial agreement that could pave the way for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to resume governing the Gaza Strip, a decade after Hamas overran the territory, officials close to Egyptian-brokered negotiations said on Thursday.

The Fatah and Hamas delegations arrived in Cairo on Monday and held two days of talks to finalize the reconciliation agreement under the sponsorship of the Egyptian authorities.

In Israel's first reaction, a government official said Hamas must disarm and recognise Israel under the deal.

A statement from Netanyahu's office said that Israel "will examine developments in the field and act accordingly".

Egypt has previously attempted to help Hamas and Fatah create a united government for Gaza and the West Bank.

The two sides had been meeting in the Egyptian capital this week with the aim of ending a crippling decadeold split between the two sides.

Fatah, the more moderate of the two groups, previously controlled Gaza but was ousted by Hamas a decade ago, leaving Palestine split in two.

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

Fatah negotiator Azzam al-Ahmed and Hamas' representative Saleh al-Arouri smiled and shook hands in a short ceremony presided over by Egypt's chief of intelligence, Khalid Fawzi.

The readout of the Secretary-General's phone call comes as media outlets are reporting that Egyptian-facilitated talks in Cairo have led to a breakthrough in the talks among Palestinian parties on administration in the Gaza Strip.

The crossing has remained largely closed in recent years.

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.

A major sticking point has been the Hamas military wing and its arsenal. Fatah has claimed that the Rafah border crossing should be managed by Abbas' presidential guards and under the supervision of the European Union, relieving thousands of Hamas members of their jobs.

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