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Hamas Takes Steps Toward Reconciliation Government


Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attends the summit of the Arab League at the Dead Sea, Jordan, March 29, 2017.

Hamas, the Islamic militant group that rules Gaza, said Sunday in a statement that it will dissolve its administrative body and hold general elections.

The decision is seen as a way to end a political and territorial rift between Hamas and President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement. The move opens an avenue to form a reconciliation government.

“The administrative committee is now dissolved and the government can come to Gaza today to assume its responsibilities and duties,” Hamas official Hussam Badran told The Associated Press.

The rival Palestinian governments have been at loggerheads since a civil war in 2007, when Hamas drove the Palestinian Authority from Gaza, a year after defeating Fatah in parliament elections. The takeover led to rival governments, with Hamas controlling Gaza, and Abbas in charge of autonomous enclaves in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

The news of the decision comes after Hamas and Fatah recently participated in separate talks with Egyptian intelligence officials in Cairo.

Still, there were no assurances that this deal would succeed where others failed.

In previous deals, including one brokered by Egypt in 2011, both sides professed willingness to reconcile, but ultimately balked at giving up power in their respective territories

Gaza is facing a mounting humanitarian crisis, including a severe electricity shortage.