Hamas, Fatah Agree on Timetable for Palestinian Reconciliation

If agreement signed in Cairo Sunday holds it may lead to Palestinian elections in six months time.

Officials from Palestinian rivals Hamas and Fatah say they agreed on a new timetable for a power-sharing deal that envisions elections in about six months.

Reconciliation efforts have stalled repeatedly. It's unclear if Sunday's deal, brokered by Egypt and signed in Cairo, would end the impasse.

The Islamic militant Hamas seized Gaza from Fatah's leader, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, in 2007, leaving him with only the West Bank. A unity deal was reached earlier this year but hung up over disagreements over whether Abbas should head an interim government that prepares for elections.

Azzam Ahmed of Fatah and Fawzi Barhoum of Hamas say the sides agreed Sunday that the interim government should be formed by the first week of June and remain in office for six months.

Fatah, which controls the West Bank, and Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, have been attempting to implement a reconciliation agreement brokered by Egypt and signed last year in Cairo. That agreement included the formation of a unity government and the holding of elections in May 2012.

Israel has rejected the agreement, refusing to negotiate with a government involving Hamas, whose charter calls for the destruction of Israel.

Palestinians hold flags during a rally in the West Bank city of Ramallah March 15, 2011.