(MENAFN - Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)) Fatah and Hamas announced reaching a reconciliation agreement on Wednesday that ends years of division between the two once rival main Palestinian political factions.
The agreement was reached after two days of talks, prime minister of the defunct government in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, said at the conclusion of the talks between the two in Gaza.
The parties "held in high regard their national and moral responsibility in joint efforts aimed at reaching conciliation," he said, adding that both were committed to their earlier talks on the goal in both Cairo and Doha.
"(Palestinian) President Mahmoud Abbas (of Fatah) will hold consultations in order to form a national unity government, which he will announce under an agreed and precise legal timeframe (five weeks, as stipulated by the Cairo Declaration)," he added.
The agreement includes ensuring the need for legislative,
presidential and national council elections to be held simultaneously, granting President Abbas the decision of the exact date they are held six months after announcing the government formation.
It also enacts the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, more commonly known as the PLO, and its development for it to practice its role in instating liberties in the Palestinian regions of Gaza and the West Bank, he added.
The pact was met with angry reactions from Israel, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu describing Fatah's decision to work alongside Hamas as "playing with fire" through ignoring warnings from the Washington and Tel Aviv against doing so.
Israeli officials, including those tasked with security, are set to meet on Thursday to discuss counter steps they will be taking towards the developments, Israeli media reported.
Netanyahu was quoted in a statement, reported by Israeli radio, as telling US Secretary of State John Kerry over the phone that Palestinian President and Fatah party chief Abbas was told to choose between peace with either Israel or Hamas.
The statement went on to describe Hamas as a terrorist organization that calls for the destruction of the state of Israel - as it is listed so by the US and the EU.
The Palestinian decision was moreover condemned by Foreign
Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who went further to suggest that it spelled the end of peace talks.
The US, in the meantime, expressed its own anxiety, with State Department spokesperson Jennifer Psaki telling reporters that its timing is "troubling," adding "we were certainly disappointed in the announcement." Any eventual Palestinian government must "unambiguously and explicitly commit to nonviolence, recognition of the state of Israel, and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations between the parties." She added, "this could seriously complicate our efforts, not just our efforts, but the efforts between the parties (Israel and the Palestinian Authority) more importantly to extend the negotiations, as evidenced by the announcement by the Israelis to cancel the negotiating meeting this evening," saying "that's evidence of their view of the announcement by the Palestinians." Meanwhile, President Abbas came out to allay fears saying that there was no contradiction between the move and peace talks with the Israelis.
"We are committed to forming just and comprehensive peace (with Israel) based on the two-state solution and according to international legitimate resolutions," he told the Palestinian news agency, WAFA.
The reconciliation will "maintain the unity of Palestinian land and people and will strengthen and support forming an independent Palestinian state, with a capital of East Jerusalem," he explained.