Hamas says ready for reconciliation with Fatah

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Hamas has agreed to hold talks with the rival Fatah movement, dissolve the Gaza administrative committee and hold general elections in a deal to end their long-running feud in the Palestinian territories, the group said in a statement early on Sunday.

The Palestinian Authority, controlled by Fatah and based in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, fought a war with Hamas over Gaza in 2007, which led to Hamas taking over.

The negotiations were "an expression of Egyptian interest in Palestinian reconciliation and ending the division, and our interest to realize the hopes of the Palestinian people by achieving national unity", Hamas said. Repeated attempts at reconciliation have failed.

This decision was reportedly a response to the Egyptian efforts.

"Hamas is ready to resume dialogue with the Fatah movement on implementing the Cairo reconciliation agreement of 2011 on the formation of a unity government with other Palestinian factions", said the leaflet.

Punishing measures included reducing electricity payments for the Gaza strip and cutting salaries for civil servants there.

Representatives for Abbas, who is in NY ahead of the UN General Assembly this week, could not be reached for comment, nor could Fatah representatives presently in Egypt, which has been hosting talks with Hamas.

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Despite Sunday's announcement, any reconciliation deal faces many obstacles.

The deal was not clear whether Hamas is ready to place its security forces under Abbas' control - a key sticking point that has scuttled past attempts.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said the talks with Egypt will focus on alleviating the blockade and mending a longstanding rift with rival group Fatah, headed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

The Gaza Strip has faced deteriorating humanitarian conditions, with a severe electricity crisis and a lack of clean water, among other issues.

Israel's increasing restrictions on exit permits for Gaza residents, an escalating sewage crisis that is contaminating the strip's beaches, and high levels of unemployment, are all contributing to a mounting sense of exhaustion in the strip.

United Nations officials have called for the blockade to be lifted, but Israel says it is necessary to stop Hamas from obtaining weapons or materials that could be used to make them.

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