Palestinian rivals planning to hold elections next year
JERUSALEM – Rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas have reached a tentative agreement to end their 4-year-old rift by forming a caretaker government of independent technocrats and holding new elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip next year, officials said Wednesday.
The pact, brokered by Egyptian intelligence agency and interim government, followed several days of secret meetings in Cairo.
But Palestinian officials acknowledged they have not yet resolved all of their long-standing differences and it remains unclear whether they can work together to implement a deal over the coming year. Previous attempts at reconciliation have failed between the mainstream, secular Fatah, which controls the West Bank, and Hamas, the Islamist militant group that rules Gaza.
“It’s not the end of the path,” said Moussa Abu Marzouk, head of the Hamas delegation, during a press conference Wednesday night in Cairo. “We have a lot to do.”
Unanswered questions include who will serve as prime minister and run security forces and what will be the government’s policy toward Israel.
A previous Fatah-Hamas unity government collapsed in 2007 after a power struggle was followed by a brief armed clash in which Hamas seized control of Gaza. After that, each faction set up rival governments, prime ministers and security forces in the two territories. They have also accused one another of arresting and torturing each other’s members in the land they control.
Both factions have been under growing pressure from the Palestinian public to end their division, which has distracted from efforts to end the Israeli occupation and win statehood.