Hamas says progress made in Palestinian reconciliation talks

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Rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah have reached an agreement on aspects of a political reconciliation aimed at ending a decade-long split during talks mediated by Egypt in Cairo, officials said on Thursday (Oct 12).

According to Reuters, the details regarding the agreement are expected to be revealed during a press conference this afternoon in Cairo, where the talks between the two rival Palestinian factions took place.

Such a move would restore a great deal of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' influence in Gaza while weakening Hamas' control.

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A party to the negotiations, who asked not to be identified, said the agreement would see forces of the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority, which is dominated by Fatah, take control of the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt. Hamas and Fatah agreed in 2014 to form a national reconciliation government, but despite that deal, Hamas's shadow government continued to rule the Gaza Strip.

The latest reconciliation efforts come as US President Donald Trump has sought to revive peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians and met separately with Abbas and Netanyahu on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in NY last month. "We make every effort possible to implement it to start a new chapter in the history of our people", Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem told Reuters. The loss damaged Abbas' credibility in the eyes of the West and Israel, after years of being their main Palestinian diplomatic counterpart.

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah (right) and Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh hold hands in Gaza City October 2, 2017.

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It has fought three wars with Israel since 2008 and the blockaded Gaza Strip has faced deteriorating humanitarian conditions. Hamas, in turn, has said that it will not disarm, even if it is willing to give Abbas control of the Gaza government.

Struggling with the fallout from an Israeli-Egyptian border blockade since 2007, Hamas has found it increasingly hard to govern or provide basic services to Gaza's 2 million residents.

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