Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas sign reconciliation deal in major breakthrough

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Rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah on Thursday signed a landmark reconciliation agreement in Egyptian capital Cairo.

Hamas must disarm and recognise Israel under a Palestinian unity deal announced on Thursday with its rival Fatah aimed at ending their decade-long split, an Israeli government official said.

The two sides remain sharply at odds, however, over the future of Hamas's 25,000-strong armed wing, which the terror group says is nonnegotiable.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Donald Trump chat as White House senior advisor Jared Kushner is seen in between them, during their meeting at the King David hotel in Jerusalem May 22, 2017.

Hamas's agreement to transfer administrative powers in Gaza to a Fatah-backed government marked a major reversal, prompted partly by its fears of financial and political isolation after its main patron and donor, Qatar, plunged in June into a major diplomatic dispute with key allies like Saudi Arabia.

Hamas seized Gaza from Fatah in a near civil war in 2007 and the two factions have been at loggerheads ever since.

Saleh al-Arouri, deputy head of Hamas's influential Political Bureau, also voiced appreciation for the role played by Egypt in sponsoring inter-Palestinian dialogue.

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He said the unity government would "run all institutions without exception", including all border crossings with Israel and in Rafah, Gaza's only access point with Egypt.

Islamist movement Hamas is blacklisted as a terrorist organisation by the United States and the European Union.

It has fought three wars with Israel since 2008 and the blockaded Gaza Strip has faced deteriorating humanitarian conditions.

Al-Ahmed highly appreciated the Egyptian role and keenness to achieve Palestinian reconciliation, stressing that Egypt is the sponsor of the Arab national security, including the Palestinian security.

In return, Cairo pressed Hamas to move forward on reconciliation with Fatah.

Over the past decade, each side deepened control over its territory, making it increasingly hard to forge compromises and repeated attempts at reconciliation failed.

Yahya Sinwar, Hamas's acting chief in Gaza, for his part, congratulated Abbas on the watershed agreement. It also added that the Presidential Guard of President Mahmoud Abbas will operate the border, under a reconciliation deal.

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