Fatah and Hamas Said to Reach Deal to End Schism

Jerusalem – Fatah and Hamas, the rival Palestinian movements, reached understandings on Wednesday to end the years-long internal Palestinian schism, according to Egyptian and Palestinian officials.

The announcement was initially made by both the official Palestinian news agency, Wafa, and the state-run Egyptian news agency, MENA.

Citing an Egyptian official, Wafa reported that delegations led by Azzam al-Ahmed of Fatah and Moussa Abu Marzouk of Hamas had agreed in Cairo on issues including the formation of a temporary unity government and the holding of Palestinian elections.

Mr. Ahmed was quoted as confirming the agreement. He said it would be formally announced at a joint news conference in Cairo on Wednesday night. Reuters reported that Taher Al-Nono, the Hamas government spokesman in Gaza, also confirmed the agreement, saying, “All points of differences have been overcome.”

On Monday, amid news of the talks, Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, warned that reconciliation between the two Palestinian groups could end prospects of peace talks with Israel, according to Haaretz.

“You can’t have peace with both Israel and Hamas,” Haaretz quoted him as saying. “Choose peace with Israel.”

The news comes as the so-called Arab Spring has roiled the Middle East, leading to the demise of two-long time autocrats and raising new fears in Israel about its alliances and security. Especially alarming to Israel was the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, which has a peace agreement with Israel.

Relations between Fatah, the mainstream secularist movement led by Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, and Hamas, the Islamic militant group, have deteriorated since Hamas won parliamentary elections in 2006. They ruptured a year later when Hamas seized full control of Gaza, the Palestinian coastal enclave, after a brief factional war, routing Fatah forces there and limiting the influence of Mr. Abbas and his Palestinian Authority to the West Bank.

Mr. Abbas has been pressing in recent months for reconciliation, under popular pressure for national unity and ahead of plans to seek international recognition of Palestinian statehood at the United Nations this fall.

Successive rounds of Egyptian-brokered talks between the rival parties have failed in past years. Last month, Mr. Abbas said that he was ready to go to Gaza and meet with Ismail Haniya, the leader of the Hamas government, who had already invited Mr. Abbas and Fatah to resume unity talks.

Mr. Abbas said then that the purpose would be to reach agreement on the formation of a new government that could prepare for Palestinian presidential and parliamentary elections within six months.

This article “Fatah and Hamas Said to Reach Deal to End Schism” originally appeared at The New York Times.