(Reuters) – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement has struck an agreement with bitter rival Hamas on forming an interim government and fixing a date for a general election, officials said Wednesday.
The surprise deal was brokered by Egypt and followed secret talks between the two sides, who fought a brief civil war in 2007 that left the Islamist Hamas in control of the Gaza Strip and the Western-backed Abbas in charge of the West Bank.
Forging Palestinian unity is regarded as crucial to reviving any prospect for an independent Palestinian state.
“We have agreed to form a government composed of independent figures that would start preparing for presidential and parliamentary elections,” said Azzam al-Ahmad, the head of Fatah’s negotiating team in Cairo. “Elections would be held in about eight months from now,” he added.