Palestinian rivals Fatah, Hamas sign pact

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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.

Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas told AFP on Thursday, "I welcome the agreement".

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The two sides remain sharply at odds, however, over the future of Hamas's 25,000-strong armed wing, which the terror group says is nonnegotiable.

Saleh al-Arouri, deputy head of Hamas's influential Political Bureau, also voiced appreciation for the role played by Egypt in sponsoring inter-Palestinian dialogue.

Cairo is now leading efforts to heal a decade-long political split between Gaza-based Hamas and the West Bank-based Fatah movement of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

The Western-backed mainstream Fatah party lost control of Gaza to Hamas, considered a terrorist group by the West and Israel, in fighting in 2007.

Egypt has been keen to improve security in the Sinai Peninsula which borders Gaza and where jihadist rebels have fought a long-running insurgency.

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The official was referring to the diplomatic Quartet on Middle East peace, which includes the United Nations, the United States, the European Union and Russian Federation.

"It is hard to imagine Hamas giving up its weapons for the sake of reconciliation", Tariq Dana, policy adviser at Al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network, told Al Jazeera earlier this month.

Thousands of Palestinians took to the streets across Gaza on Thursday in celebration of the unity pact, with loudspeakers on open cars blasting national songs, youths dancing and hugging, and many waving Palestine and Egyptian flags.

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.

Last week, Palestinian Authority prime minister Rami Hamdallah visited Gaza for the first time since 2015 and his ministers took formal control of government departments in the territory.

A major sticking point has been the Hamas military wing and its arsenal.

"We also agreed that the [Ramallah-based Palestinian] government would operate Gaza's Rafah border crossing with Egypt and all of Gaza's crossings with Israel", al-Ahmad added.

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