Hamas, Fatah Announce Deal to Form Palestinian Unity Government

Paris peace summit, UN anti-settlements resolution and Trump entering the White House said to be behind agreement. 'A unity government is of strategic importance,' Palestinian official says.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas  and Hamas' political chief Khaled Meshal are seen together during their meeting in Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2011.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas' political chief Khaled Meshal are seen together during their meeting in Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2011. AP

Hamas and Fatah have agreed to establish a Palestinian unity government, the two factions said in a statement from Moscow, where they were holding unity talks since Sunday.

According to the deal reached in Moscow, the Palestinian factions – including the Islamic Jihad – will join the PLO institutions and form a new Palestinian National Council. The new council will select the PLO Executive Committee, the top political and diplomatic Palestinian body.

>> Get all updates on Israel and the Palestinians: Download our App, sign up to Breaking News Alerts, and Subscribe >>

The Palestinian factions agreed that over the next two months new members will be elected to the National Council and the sides will try to form a new government.

A Fatah senior official taking part in the talks in Moscow told Haaretz that "The conditions are ripe for a new unity government, both in the internal arena and the international one."

The official mentioned the recent peace conference in Paris, the UN Security Council resolution criticizing the settlements and U.S. President-elect Donald Trump's election as some of the reasons behind the deal. "A unity government is of strategic importance for the Palestinians," he said.

Fatah Central Committee member Azam al-Ahmed said that the Palestinian factions had agreed to promote a unity government and would turn to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas within 48 hours in order for him to launch consultations ahead of the formation the new government.

Moussa Abu Marzouk, deputy chairman of Hamas' political bureau, who took part in the talks, said that a unity government "is the most effective tool to promote the contentious issues that formed during the years of division, and it is responsible to promote the solutions, including the holding of free and democratic elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip."