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Rival Palestinian factions reach unity agreement

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Rival Palestinian groups said they reached an agreement Wednesday on reuniting their governments in the West Bank and Gaza after years of bitter infighting that weakened them politically and caused the deaths of hundreds in violent clashes and crackdowns.

Even as the tentative agreement revived hopes among Palestinians that they might be able to form a unified front, unity between the rival groups Fatah and Hamas appeared unlikely to jump-start negotiations with Israel for an independent Palestinian state.

Israel swiftly rejected the prospect of a Palestinian government including Hamas, citing the militant group's stated goal of destroying the Jewish state. The United States expressed similar concerns.

The plan, brokered by Egypt, calls for the formation of a single caretaker government in the coming days. The government would administer day-to-day business until new presidential and legislative elections, which are to be held in a year's time.

"The people want to end the division … and we say: What you demanded has been achieved today," said Azzam al-Ahmed, the chief Fatah negotiator, at a news conference in Cairo with his Hamas counterpart. The two groups signed an initial deal Wednesday.

Hani Masri, a member of a Palestinian delegation that met with Hamas leaders in Syria and the new leadership in Egypt, said the political upheavals in both countries pushed the two rivals together.

Rival Palestinian factions reach unity agreement 04/27/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 27, 2011 10:24pm]
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