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Hamas Agrees to Launch Talks With Fatah
January 19 2018, 01:39 | Irvin Gilbert
The announcement comes after talks in Cairo between Hamas chief Ismail Haniya and Egyptian officials
"Hamas invites the consensus government to come to Gaza to practice its mission and carry out its duties in the Gaza Strip immediately, and it accepts holding the general elections", the statement said.
Egypt has welcomed new steps taken by Palestinian Islamist group Hamas and President Mahmoud Abbas'sFatah movement to build Palestinian unity, the result of Cairo's efforts to end the long-running feud, Egypt's state-run news agency MENA reported on Sunday. Hamas has governed the strip and its 2 million residents since 2007, when it fought a short civil war with Fatah.
Hamas, who are on the United Nations terrorist list, have controlled the Gaza Strip and the West Bank since 2007.
Repeated attempts at reconciliation between the two factions have failed in the past.
The last time Hamas and Fatah tried to reconcile in May 2014, the two parties agreed to allow the PA government take responsibility for Gaza and hold elections.
The Hamas statement was issued from Gaza on Sunday following talks with Egyptian officials in Cairo last week.
Hamas official Hussam Badran said Gaza officials accepted Abbas' demands to end the stalemate between the rival Palestinian groups "as a sign of our good will toward reconciliation".
The conflict between Hamas and Fatah escalated in 2007, leading to a split and Hamas' takeover of the Gaza Strip.
Mahmoud Aloul, another Fatah official, told the Voice of Palestine radio that the news from Cairo is encouraging, but that: 'We want to see that happening on the ground before we move to the next step'.
It also was not immediate clear how Egypt's latest effort aligns with its previous tacit support for a separate Gaza power-sharing deal between Hamas and Mohammed Dahlan, an exiled former Abbas aide-turned-rival. Hamas is under growing financial pressure as Egypt has destroyed numerous smuggling tunnels Hamas used previously, and Abbas has turned up the screws on the rival Hamas by refusing to pay for electricity in Gaza, and cutting salaries for civil servants.
Abbas has viewed Hamas' control as a shadow government and called for the dissolution of Hamas' administration.
Gaza's economy is in tatters and it has one of the world's highest unemployment rates.
Hamas - who remain on the United Nations terror list - has been greatly weakened by an Isaeli and Egyptian blockade, three wars and worldwide isolation.
Despite Sunday's announcement, any reconciliation deal faces many obstacles.