JERUSALEM, April 23 (UPI) -- The Palestinian Liberation Organization and Hamas, the two leading Palestinian factions, announced an agreement Wednesday in Jerusalem, forming a unity government within five weeks in preparation for elections at the end of the year.
Similar agreements were reached in the past but never enforced, but the new deal between the PLO, which runs the Palestinian authority in the West Bank, and Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, comes after a thus-far unsuccessful attempt by the United States to arrange a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Referring to a seven-year divide between the Palestinian factions, Ismail Haniya, prime minister of the Hamas government in Gaza, said at a news conference, “I announce to our people the news that the years of the split are over.”
Some observers remain skeptical of the reconciliation, noting neither side, in the past, has shown an interest in sharing power. Each has differing views on dealing with Israel, which responded to the announcement by canceling peace negotiations scheduled for Wednesday.