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Hamas, Fatah clinch breakthrough Gaza deal - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Chief Palestinian negotiator Azzam Al-Ahmad (L) of the Fatah movement and Hamas's exiled deputy leader Musa Abu-Marzuq meet at a hotel in Cairo, Egypt, on September 24, 2014. (AFP Photo/Khaled Desouki)

Chief Palestinian negotiator Azzam Al-Ahmad (L) of the Fatah movement and Hamas’s exiled deputy leader Musa Abu-Marzuq meet at a hotel in Cairo, Egypt, on September 24, 2014. (AFP Photo/Khaled Desouki)

Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat—Rival Palestinian groups, Fatah and Hamas, reached an agreement on Thursday to hand over the administration of the Gaza Strip to the Palestinian national unity government, representatives of both factions have announced.

After two days of talks under the auspices of Cairo, the two sides reached a breakthrough deal to give the Palestinian national unity government, led by Mahmoud Abbas, full control of the Gaza Strip.

The agreement covers aspects of “political partnership, [administration of] border crossings, reconstruction of Gaza and the [payment of] salaries to Gaza’s civil workers,” the head of the Islamist Hamas delegation Musa Abu-Marzuq told reporters during a joint press conference with his Fatah counterpart Azzam Al-Ahmad.

The talks tackled all issues and obstacles that hampered the implementation of the reconciliation agreement, he added.

Hamas has ruled the Gaza Strip since 2007 after winning legislative elections and rivalry between the two factions deepened when the new Islamist rulers kicked Fatah officials out of the enclave.

The two factions came close to forming a national unity government in May but talks broke down over the Palestinian Authority’s suspension of the payment of salaries to Gaza’s civil workers.

“All civil servants will be paid by the unity government because they are all Palestinians and it is the government of all Palestinians,” said Ahmad on Thursday.

The recent war on Gaza heightened tensions between the two groups as Fatah blamed Hamas for heavy losses of life and damage to property.

More than 2,000 Palestinians were killed and several thousand homes were destroyed during the 7-week Israeli offensive on Gaza.

The two sides agreed to “remove all the obstacles before the national unity government and form a committee comprised of all Palestinian parties to implement the agreement,” the Fatah official added.

Another contentious issue is the control of Gaza’s border crossings, which according to Abu-Marzuq, would be shared between the national unity government and the UN.

He said: “The United Nations will come to an agreement with Israel and the unity government on how to run the crossings.”

Under the deal a 3,000-strong security force affiliated with the Palestinian Authority would be merged with Gaza’s security services to oversee the enclave’s border crossings.