More than 15 years after a violent break between leading Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah, Algeria has brokered an apparent reconciliation, with the signing of a unification agreement announced on Thursday.
The agreement, which has been seen by CNN, also calls for presidential and legislative elections in Gaza and the West Bank, including occupied east Jerusalem, within a maximum period of one year from the date of signing the declaration. The last elections in the Palestinian territories were in January 2006.
Hamas – which controls Gaza – and Fatah, the leading party in the Palestinian Authority which governs the West Bank, are among 14 Palestinian factions to sign the document.
The “Algerian declaration” also calls for a united Palestinian National Council, which Palestinians hope it will end years of division.
“It was agreed to elect the Palestinian National Council at home and abroad, using a proportional representation system with the participation of all Palestinian factions, within a maximum period of one year from the date of signing the declaration,” Mustafa al-Barghouti, the secretary-general of the Palestinian National Initiative, told CNN.
Barghouti, an independent Palestinian politician, has long been trying to bring about a reconciliation between factions in Gaza and the West Bank.
The head of the Hamas political bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, said in a statement that the movement is satisfied with the meetings with officials from Fatah to end the Palestinian split.
Fatah, which is led by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, did not immediately issue a comment on the apparent reconciliation.