Hamas must disarm, recognise Israel under Palestinian unity deal

According to the agreement, the Western-backed Palestinian Authority will resume all governing responsibilities in Gaza no later than December 1.

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.

Thursday's signing of the agreement in Cairo was reached after two days of Egyptian-brokered negotiations.

According to one Palestinian official, Abbas may soon visit the blockaded Gaza Strip - for the first time in ten years - in light of the diplomatic success in Cairo.

With Hamas in control, conditions in Gaza deteriorated. "Unity and national reconciliation among the Palestinian people are our strategic option for moving forward".

Gaza, which sits on the Mediterranean coast and is fenced in by heavily-patrolled barriers on three sides bordering Israel and Egypt, has been a frequent battleground over the past decade, during which Hamas has fought three wars with Israel. Unemployment is high, and electricity and clean water are scarce.

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Sissi has stressed that he believes reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas could pave the way for Middle East peace.

"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.

"According security measures will be applied and adopted by the Palestinian Authority where the presidential guards will be spread all over the borders", said al-Ahmad.

"All the measures taken recently will end very shortly", Zakaria al-Agha, a senior Fatah leader in the Gaza Strip, told AFP. It is unclear whether that unresolved issue will delay Abbas' government's return to Gaza.

Last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who met with Sissi in NY last month, denounced the reconciliation efforts, saying any future Palestinian government must disband the Hamas terror group's armed wing and sever its ties with Iran. And the Palestinian Authority is hoping that reconciliation will allow the Palestinian territories to have a unified voice to press Israel for an independent state.

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