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(L-R) Palestinian legislator Mustafa Barghouti, Palestinian Fatah delegation chief Azzam al-Ahmed, Hamas prime minister Gaza Ismail Haniya, Hamas deputy leader Musa Abu Marzuk, and secretary-general of the Palestinian Arab Front Jameel Shehadeh Palestinians hold a portrait of Mahmoud Abbas as they take part in demonstrations in support of a new attempt to reconcile with Hamas
Gaza-based Hamas and President Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) have agreed to implement a unity pact, both sides announced in a joint news conference.
The move envisions forming a unity government within five weeks and holding national elections six months after a vote of confidence by the Palestinian parliament.
Palestinians have long hoped for a healing of the political rift between the PLO and militant Hamas, which won a Palestinian election in 2006 and seized control of Gaza from forces loyal to Western-backed Mr Abbas in 2007.
But Arab-brokered unity pacts reached between the two sides have yet to be implemented, leaving many Palestinians sceptical about their leaders’ reconciliation pledges.
“This is the good news we tell our people: the era of division is over,” Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh told Palestinian reporters to loud applause.
Hamas has repeatedly battled Israel, which it refuses to recognise.
Before the announcement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cautioned Mr Abbas over the unity efforts, saying he had to choose between peace with Israel or Hamas.
Mr Abbas’s Fatah party has remained in control of the Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank and pursued troubled peace talks with Israel, which are set to expire on 29 April.
An Israeli warplane struck the northern Gaza wounding six people, one seriously, Hamas said shortly after the announcement.
The raid came as thousands took to the streets of Gaza City to celebrate the agreement to form a unity government to end seven years of divided administration.
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