In phone call, United Nations chief offers congratulations and support to Palestinian President

Palestinian factions announce milestone reconciliation

Palestinian rival factions Hamas and Fatah have reached a deal over political reconciliation, Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh said in a statement on Thursday without providing further details.

The prime minister said he considered Hamas "responsible for all acts of terrorism originating in Gaza", and called on the Palestinian Authority to prevent terror in the West Bank.

The announcement comes after representatives from Hamas and the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority (PA) convened in Cairo on Tuesday to implement a unity agreement that was signed in 2011 but not put into action, Al Jazeera reported. Over the past few weeks, Palestinian Premier Rami Hamdallah with the government travelled for the first time in over two years to Gaza to start procedures to gain control of the Strip.

"President Abbas has repeatedly stressed his readiness to visit Gaza", Majid al-Fitiani, secretary of Fatah's Revolutionary Council, told Anadolu Agency on Thursday.

The two factions, the same source continued, had also agreed to allow a legal and administrative committee, drawn up earlier in Ramallah, to find solutions to longstanding problems - mostly related to salary shortfalls - faced by Gaza's Hamas-hired civil servants.

It was signed in Cairo by new Hamas deputy leader Salah al-Aruri and Azzam al-Ahmad, the head of the Fatah delegation for the talks, at the headquarters of Egypt's intelligence service, which oversaw the negotiations.

According to a readout of a telephone call issued by a United Nations spokesperson, Mr. Guterres said he was encouraged by the recent progress in allowing the Palestinian Government to take up its responsibilities in Gaza and welcomed Egypt's efforts to achieve this goal.

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He added that sanctions taken by Abbas against Gaza will also soon be lifted.

The West Bank and the Gaza Strip have remained politically and administratively divided since 2007, when Hamas wrested control of the strip from Fatah following several days of street fighting.

In return, Cairo pressed Hamas to move forward on reconciliation with Fatah. Israel and Egypt imposed a blockade on the territory, severely restricting Palestinians from leaving the territory and goods from entering.

Since then, the relations between the two rival factions have been very tense and all attempts to reconcile them over the past years have failed to bring fruit.

The publicly-released parts of the agreement did not specify what would happen to Hamas' armed wing.

Last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who met with Sissi in NY last month, denounced the reconciliation efforts, saying any future Palestinian government must disband the Hamas terror group's armed wing and sever its ties with Iran.

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