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PLO, Hamas announce agreement to end political division

April 23, 2014 4:47 P.M. (Updated: April 25, 2014 3:44 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- PLO and Hamas representatives announced an historic unity deal on Wednesday to bring to an end more than seven years of political division between the main Palestinian political parties.

Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh announced the end of years of Palestinian political division in a press conference in Gaza City, saying that the Hamas and PLO delegations had worked as "one team" throughout the reconciliation dialogue and had stressed the necessity of achieving results in this round of dialogue.

The joint PLO-Hamas statement given at the conference also authorized the Palestinian Authority president to set a date for new elections, and emphasized the commitment of both sides to the reconciliation principles that had been agreed upon in the Cairo Agreement and the Doha Declaration.

They also emphasized the need to reactivate the Palestinian Legislative Council.

Fatah leader Azzam al-Ahmad said that neither side will accept the resumption of negotiations with Israel without clear guidelines, and that negotiations had stalled as a result of "Israel intransigence" and "American bias."

Earlier, Palestinian officials announced that they had agreed to form a unity government within five weeks that will be headed by either President Mahmoud Abbas or former Deputy Prime Minister of the 2006 unity government Nasser al-Din al-Shaer, who is a member of Hamas.

The parties also agreed that both Hamas in Gaza and Fatah in the occupied West Bank would release prisoners detained for their political affiliation.

The division between the two Palestinian factions began in 2006, when Hamas won the Palestinian legislative elections.

In the following year, clashes erupted between Fatah and Hamas, leaving Hamas in control of the Strip and Fatah in control of parts of the occupied West Bank.

The groups have made failed attempts at national reconciliation for years, most recently in 2012, when they signed two agreements -- one in Cairo and a subsequent one in Doha -- which have as of yet been entirely unimplemented.
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