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Palestinian political factions agree on general elections in 2018

Azzam al-Ahmad (R), head of Fatah's Central Committee and delegation, heads to speak at a press conference at the end of two days of closed-door talks attended by representatives of 13 leading political parties, Cairo, Egypt, November 22, 2017. (Photos by AFP)

Palestinian political factions have agreed to hold general elections by the end of the upcoming year following a recent unity deal between Hamas and Fatah.

The announcement was made via a statement released on Wednesday, following two days of reconciliation talks held in the Egyptian capital Cairo.

The statement added that a request had been made from the electoral commission to prepare for presidential and legislative polls. It also called on Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas to determine a date for the elections after consulting with all sides.

“It was agreed on Tuesday that the Egyptian security intelligence would send a special team to Gaza soon to observe and follow up the implementation of the reconciliation agreement signed in Cairo on October 12," the statement noted.

It also praised an October reconciliation deal between Hamas and Fatah, referring to it as a "realistic start to end divisions," while underscoring "the importance of removing all obstacles in the path of the government's efforts to immediately assume its responsibilities towards" the Palestinian people.

Hamas' senior political leader, Khalil al-Hayya, speaks during a press conference at the end of two days of closed-door talks in Cairo attended by representatives of 13 leading political parties on November 22, 2017.

According to the October 12 reconciliation deal, which was brokered by Egypt, Hamas agreed to cede civilian control of Gaza to the Palestinian Authority. Hamas stuck to a November 1 deadline to allow the PA to take control of Gaza’s border crossings with Egypt and the occupied Palestinian territories. The resistance movement has until December 1 to hand over full civilian administration to the PA.

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Hamas has been ruling Gaza since 2007, a year after it surprised Abbas’ Fattah party in general elections. The territory has been suffering from two Israeli wars and a crippling siege since then. The PA has exacerbated the plight of the Gazans by reducing electricity to the relatively-small, but heavily-populated enclave. Some PA officials have hinted that restrictions could ease if Hamas gives up its arms.

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