Under the accord, which comes a decade after Hamas overran Gaza, the Palestinian rivals have agreed to complete the handover of Gaza's administrative control to a unity government by December 1.

Head of Hamas delegation Saleh Arouri and Fatah leader Azzam Ahmad sign a reconciliation deal in Cairo, Egypt, October 12, 2017.
Head of Hamas delegation Saleh Arouri and Fatah leader Azzam Ahmad sign a reconciliation deal in Cairo, Egypt, October 12, 2017. ( Reuters )

Palestinian political rivals Hamas and Fatah on Thursday agreed to complete the handover of administrative control of Gaza to a unity government by December 1, a statement from Egypt's state information service said.

The deal comes a decade after Hamas overran the territory.

It was agreed under the deal that the responsibility for the Rafah border crossing in Gaza will be handed over to the unity government on November 1, two sources said.

The deal brokered by Egypt bridges a bitter gulf between the Western-backed mainstream Fatah party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas.

TRT World's Ahmed al Burai has this report.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said in a statement that the agreement was reached under "generous Egyptian auspices," but provided no details.

"Fatah and Hamas reached an agreement at dawn today upon a generous Egyptian sponsorship," Haniyeh said in a statement.

Palestinians welcomed the deal.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said in a statement that the agreement was reached under "generous Egyptian auspices," but provided no details.

The senior Hamas official said that details are expected to be released at a noon news conference in Cairo, where unity talks between the rival factions began on Tuesday.

"Fatah and Hamas reached an agreement at dawn today upon a generous Egyptian sponsorship," Haniyeh said in a statement.

Palestinians welcome the deal

Thousands of Palestinians took to the streets across Gaza on Thursday in celebration of the unity pact.

With loudspeakers on open cars blasting national songs, youths dancing and hugging and many waving Palestine and Egyptian flags.

"Israel will examine developments"

The Palestinian accord was met warily in Israel.

For Israel to accept it, said one government official, the deal must abide by previous international agreements and terms set out by the Quartet of Middle East peace mediators - including the recognition of Israel and Hamas's giving up its weapons.

"Israel will examine developments in the field and act accordingly," according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The Western-backed mainstream Fatah party lost control of Gaza to Hamas, in fighting in 2007. 

But last month Hamas agreed to cede powers in Gaza to President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah-backed government in a deal mediated by Egypt.

Egypt has helped mediate several attempts to reconcile the two movements and form a power-sharing unity government in Gaza and the West Bank. Hamas and Fatah agreed in 2014 to form a national reconciliation government, but despite that deal, Hamas' shadow government continued to rule the Gaza Strip.

Negotiations began on Tuesday

Unity talks between the two groups in Cairo began on an optimistic note on Tuesday, with a top Hamas delegate saying he was "full of hope" for a roadmap to reconciliation.

Cairo subsequently set up this week's three-day talks on the implementation of further steps towards unity.

"We meet in Cairo full of hope to draw and lay down a road map entitled a national reconciliation," senior Hamas delegate Izzat Reshiq said.

"Unity and national reconciliation among all our Palestinian people is our strategic option to move forwards."

Azzam Ahmad, one of the leaders of the Fatah delegation, said negotiations would also cover the running of government ministries in Gaza. Also heading the Fatah contingent is Majed Faraj, Palestinian intelligence chief and a close ally of Abbas.

A third issue on the table would be the fate of 40,000 to 50,000 employees Hamas hired since 2007. Heading the Hamas delegation is Saleh Arouri, the group's deputy leader.

Security will be the main focus of the talks, including the possible deployment of 3,000 Fatah security officers who would join a Gaza police force over the course of a year, restoring much of Abbas' influence in Gaza and further loosening Hamas' grip.

Fatah's Ahmad said Rafah, Gaza's only border crossing with Egypt and once the main gateway to the world for its 2 million people, should be run by Abbas' presidential guards with supervision from the European Union border agency instead of the currently deployed Hamas-linked employees.

He said the government would work to complete arrangements in a week or two for the Erez and Kerem Shalom crossings.

Hopes of success

The cabinet of the Fatah-backed Palestinian government based in the West Bank also said on Tuesday it hoped the Cairo talks would succeed.

"The cabinet hopes the national dialogue session in Cairo will succeed in achieving reconciliation and reunite the homeland. It expresses readiness to assume full duties in Gaza Strip as soon as the factions clinch an agreement."

Both sides hope that the proposed deployment of security personnel from the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority to Gaza's borders will encourage Egypt and Israel to ease restrictions at border crossings, and help Gaza revive its economy.

Hamas and Fatah will also discuss a date for presidential and legislative elections and reforms of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, which is in charge of long-stalled peace efforts with Israel.

The last Palestinian legislative election was in 2006 when Hamas won a surprise victory. This sparked the political rupture between Hamas and Fatah which eventually led to their short civil war in Gaza in 2007.

Click here for an in-depth look at how the deal came to fruition.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies