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Palestinian Factions to Sign Deal in Cairo

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, right, and senior Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh (file photo)

Officials say Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas will sign a unity agreement in Cairo Wednesday to end the divide that has left Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza with rival governments.

Officials say Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal will attend a ceremony Wednesday marking the signing. Meshaal is already in Cairo, and Abbas is due to arrive on Tuesday.

The agreement between the Palestinian factions calls for the formation of an interim government followed by presidential and legislative elections within a year.

A top Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip said Monday that the prime minister of the new unity government should come from Gaza, not the West Bank.

The deal was sharply criticized by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week because Israel considers Hamas a terrorist group.

He said Abbas must choose "peace with Israel or peace with Hamas." He added: "There is no possibility for peace with both."

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.