Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, March 28, 2011. Photo by AP
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The Carter Center issued a statement on Friday, hailing the reconciliation of once rivals Hamas and Fatah Wednesday evening in Cairo.

The center, founded in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn, commended members of Hamas and Fatah for " having the vision to begin the process of reunifying the Palestinian people", saying that the Egyptian brokered deal provides a framework to resolve many of the longstanding issues faced by the Palestinian people in both Gaza and the West Bank.

Carter has been heavily involved in the Middle East peace process, mediating the 1978 Camp David Accords between then Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli President Menachem Begin, which was followed in 1979 by the Egypt-Israel peace treaty.

The statement issued by the center on Friday expressed hope that the reconciliation would pave the way for the reformation of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), improve Palestinian governance, the election process and the security sector and reduce human rights violations.

Despite this projected optimism for what the statement called a "historic intra-Palestinian reconciliation agreement", the center acknowledged that the implementation of the agreement will pose a challenge to both sides.

Former President Carter said in the statement that "this agreement, and the promise of elections in the next twelve months, has the potential to arrest the spiral of intra-Palestinian human rights violations and preserve Palestinian democracy."

The former U.S. president was hopeful that the deal could bring about a leadership that represents all Palestinians, and that is open to negotiations with Israel. He cited his own experiences in contact with both Hamas and Fatah, saying that he is confident that "if handled creatively and flexibly by the international community, Hamas’ return to unified Palestinian governance can increase the likelihood of a two-state solution and a peaceful outcome."

Carter encouraged the international community to respect the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation, and "view it as part of the larger democratic trend sweeping the region.”

Representatives from Hamas and Fatah announced in Cairo on Wednesday night their intention to reconcile, after a four-year-long bitter and at times violent rift, which saw Hamas administering the Gaza Strip and the West Bank under the control of the Fatah dominated Palestinian Authority.

Israel has rejected the Hamas-Fatah unity agreement, with Netanyahu saying shortly after it was announced that "the Palestinian Authority must choose either peace with Israel or peace with Hamas. There is no possibility for peace with both. Hamas aspires to destroy Israel and fires rockets at our cities ... at our children."

Hamas's charter calls for the destruction of Israel, and Israel and the Gaza Strip-based group exchanged heavy fire earlier this month. Hamas hit school bus with an anti-tank missile, mortally wounding an Israeli child who later died.