Hamas and Fatah ink reconciliation deal

Mahmoud Abbas

Mahmoud Abbas

Hamas and Fatah have signed a reconciliation deal in Cairo.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said the deal, which paved the way for elections and a power sharing arrangement, would end "four black years" of infighting.

Mr Abbas, whose Fatah party controls the West Bank, said he would visit the Gaza Strip in the near future. The terrorist group Hamas seized power in Gaza in 2007, causing the collapse of the Palestinian unity government.

The deal has been condemned by Israel, while the United States and the Middle East Quartet have expressed caution over Hamas' refusal to recognise Israel or commit to renouncing violent methods.

Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal said at the signing: "Hamas was ready to pay any price for internal Palestinian reconciliation. The only battle of the Palestinians is against Israel.

He added: "Our aim is to establish a free and completely sovereign Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza Strip, whose capital is Jerusalem, without any settlers and without giving up a single inch of land and without giving up on the right of return."

    Last updated: 12:39pm, May 4 2011