Rivals Fatah and Hamas have agreed to form a Palestinian unity government within five weeks, Al Jazeera and The Jerusalem Post reported Wednesday.
According to the report, the agreement was reached during a Tuesday meeting between a Fatah delegation to Gaza led by Azzam al-Ahmad and Hamas leaders, including Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and senior official Musa Abu Marzouk.
Al Jazeera quoted Haniyeh as telling the Fatah delegation that “the possibility for further separation between the two movements is no longer possible given the current circumstances.”
The reconciliation talks between the factions were scheduled to continue behind closed doors on Wednesday. The two sides were discussing details of potential presidential elections, parliamentary elections and the reconstruction of the PLO.
This 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 a unified administration have collapsed before being implemented.
Fatah, the PLO’s main component, and Hamas signed a reconciliation accord to much fanfare in Cairo in 2011 aimed at ending the political divide between Hamas-ruled Gaza and the Palestinian Authority-ruled West Bank. But assorted deadlines came and went without any progress in implementing provisions of that accord.
Haniyeh on Tuesday called for Palestinian reconciliation “in order to form one government, one political system and one national program.”
The latest announcement of Palestinian unification comes as US-brokered peace talks with Israel near collapse, just one week before the end of a nine-month deadline originally set for an Israeli-Palestinian deal.
Hamas is totally opposed to the Palestinian negotiations with Israel and is sworn to Israel’s destruction. It is considered a terrorist organization by the European Union, United States and other countries. Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu responded to the reconciliation by saying that the Palestinian Authority had to choose between peace with Israel and peace with Hamas.