The two sides had been meeting in the Egyptian capital this week with the aim of ending the crippling decade-old split between the rival factions
Rival Palestinian movements Fatah and Hamas signed a reconciliation deal in Cairo on Thursday aimed at ending their decade-long split following negotiations overseen by Egypt, negotiators told reporters.
It was signed by new Hamas deputy leader Salah al-Aruri and Azzam al-Ahmad, the head of the Fatah delegation for the talks, according to Fatah and Hamas sources in the negotiations.
Details of the agreement have not yet been released and a press conference was being planned for Thursday afternoon in the Egyptian capital, where talks have been taking place since Tuesday.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniya’s office said in a statement, without giving further details, that “an agreement was reached today between Hamas and Fatah under Egyptian sponsorship.”
An official from Abbas’s Fatah movement said the Palestinian president was now planning to travel to the Gaza Strip within a month as part of the unity bid in what would be his first visit in a decade.
Sanctions taken by Abbas against Hamas-controlled Gaza will also soon be lifted, the Fatah official said.
The deal includes 3,000 members of the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority’s police force redeploying to Gaza, a member of the negotiating team told AFP on condition of anonymity.
The figure is however a fraction of the more than 20,000 police officers employed separately by Hamas.
Another party to the negotiations, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the agreement would see Palestinian Authority forces take control of the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt.
He added that all Palestinian factions would begin wider negotiations on the formation of a unity government in the coming two weeks.
One of the key issues has been punitive measures taken by Abbas against Gaza in recent months, including reducing electricity payments that left the territory’s residents with only a few hours of power a day.
The two sides had been meeting in the Egyptian capital this week with the aim of ending the crippling decade-old split between the rival factions.
Hamas seized Gaza from Fatah in a near civil war in 2007 and the two factions have been at loggerheads ever since. Multiple previous reconciliation efforts have failed.
Egypt has been keen to improve security in the Sinai Peninsula which borders Gaza and where jihadist rebels have fought a long-running insurgency.
An Egyptian source close to the talks said intelligence chief Khaled Fawzi had followed the talks closely.