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Palestinians will form unity govt
24 Apr 2014 07:07
Gaza-based Hamas and President Mahmoud Abbas's Palestine Liberation Organisation have agreed to implement a unity pact, both sides announced in a joint news conference.
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The move envisions forming a unity government within five weeks and holding national elections six months after a vote of confidence by the Palestinian parliament.
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Palestinians have long hoped for a healing of the political rift between the PLO and Hamas, which won a Palestinian election in 2006 and seized control of Gaza from forces loyal to Western-backed Mr Abbas in 2007.
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But Arab-brokered unity pacts reached between the two sides have yet to be implemented, leaving many Palestinians sceptical about their leaders' reconciliation pledges.
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"This is the good news we tell our people: the era of division is over," Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh told Palestinian reporters to loud applause.
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Hamas has repeatedly battled Israel, which it refuses to recognise.
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Mr Abbas said the pact did not contradict peace talks he is pursuing with Israel.
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He said that an independent state living peacefully alongside Israel remained his goal.
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Before the announcement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cautioned Mr Abbas over the unity efforts, saying he had to choose between peace with Israel or Hamas.
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Mr Abbas's Fatah party has remained in control of the Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank and pursued troubled peace talks with Israel, which are set to expire on 29 April.
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An Israeli air force jet struck northern Gaza wounding six people, one seriously, Hamas said shortly after the announcement.
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The raid came as thousands took to the streets of Gaza City to celebrate the agreement to form a unity government to end seven years of divided administration.
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Israel has cancelled a planned session of peace negotiations with the Palestinians.
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