Fatah and Hamas say deal reached on Palestinian elections
Gaza's Islamist rulers Hamas and their rivals Fatah in the occupied West Bank agreed on Thursday to hold the first Palestinian elections since 2006, united by their opposition to Arab-Israeli normalisation deals.
Polls will be scheduled within six months under a deal reached between Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas political chief Ismail Haniyeh, according to officials from both sides.
"We have agreed to first hold legislative elections, then presidential elections of the Palestinian Authority, and finally the Central Council of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)," said Jibril Rajub, a senior Fatah official.
The last Palestinian parliamentary elections in 2006 saw Hamas win an unexpected landslide and the following year, the Islamists seized control of the Gaza Strip in a near-civil war between the two factions.
Saleh al-Arouri, a top Hamas official, said the deal was reached during meetings held in Turkey. "This time we reached a real consensus," he said, speaking to AFP by phone from Istanbul. "Divisions have damaged our national cause and we are working to end that," he added.
The intra-Palestinian reconciliation attempts took on greater urgency after the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain normalised relations with Israel, becoming only the third and fourth Arab nations to do so. Egypt and Jordan respectively signed peace deals with the Jewish state in 1979 and 1994. (AFP)