Palestinian factions, including Hamas and Fatah to hold presidential, legislative elections by end of 2018

Palestinian factions, including rival groups Hamas and Fatah, have agreed to hold a general election by the end of 2018, a joint statement by several groups said on Wednesday following talks in Cairo.

Hamas and Fatah signed a reconciliation deal in October in Cairo-backed talks after Hamas agreed to hand over administrative control of Gaza, including the key Rafah border crossing, a decade after seizing the enclave in a civil war.

The Palestinian groups in Cairo said they would defer the choice of a final date for the general election to Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

Palestinian factions, including Hamas and Fatah to hold presidential, legislative elections by end of 2018.jpg

The Western-backed Fatah party lost control of Gaza to the Hamas terror group in fighting in 2007. But last month Hamas agreed to cede powers in Gaza to Abbas’s Fatah-backed government in a deal mediated by Egypt.

Salah Al-Bardaweel, a Hamas official involved in the talks, called Wednesday’s agreement “vague” and expressed concern that it was unable to progress on key issues such as lifting sanctions imposed by Abbas and secure full opening of the crossing between Gaza and Egypt.

The talks also failed to address security responsibilities in Gaza, which have so far remained in the hands of Hamas-backed security services.

Egypt is expected to send a security delegation to Gaza in the coming days to oversee the implementation of the agreement.

 

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