Rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas on Sunday signed a Yemeni-sponsored reconciliation accord, promising to revive direct talks after months of hostilities. The two factions reconvened in Sanaa earlier in the day in a last ditch attempt to work out a compromise over the future of the Gaza Strip and West Bank. "We, the representatives of Fatah and Hamas, agree to the Yemeni initiative as a framework to resume dialogue between the two movements to return the Palestinian situation to what it was before the Gaza incidents," the Sanaa Declaration read, according to Reuters.
The deal, which was signed by top Hamas figure Musa Abu Marzouk and senior Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmed, also affirmed the "unity of the Palestinian people, territory and authority". The talks, launched last week by Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, had come close to collapse several times.
Saleh had pressed the two parties to agree to hold direct talks in early April on the plan that calls for the Gaza Strip to return to the way it was before Hamas seized the coastal area in June after routing Fatah forces.
A Hamas official said on Saturday the group asked that the same should apply to the Israeli-occupied West Bank, where the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority has dismissed a Hamas-led government and arrested some Hamas supporters.
The Yemeni plan also envisages Palestinian elections, the creation of another unity government and the reform of Palestinian security forces along national rather than factional lines.
Fatah had said it would agree to direct reconciliation talks with Hamas only if the Islamic movement first agreed to relinquish its hold on Gaza Strip.
Saleh, who attended the deal signing, said that "we congratulate the Palestinian people on singing this initiative and I think it would enhance the trust between Fatah and Hamas and other Palestinian factions." According to SABA, Saleh confirmed that the deal would be discussed in the coming Arab summit in Syria, expressing his thanks to the representatives of Fatah and Hamas on their good attentions during the four-day Sana'a dialogue.