Major Palestinian groups have agreed to try and end their years-long disagreements and form a united National Council in order to put up a joint fight against the Israeli occupation. The reconciliation deal was reached in the Algerian capital Algiers on Thursday, October 13. Major groups that signed the “Algerian declaration” include Fatah, Hamas, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).
The deal was reached after two days of talks under the mediation of the Algerian government. In total, the deal was signed by leaders of 14 Palestinian factions, including Azzam al-Ahmad from Fatah, Ismail Haniyeh from Hamas, and PFLP Secretary General Talal Naji. Other factions that signed the deal include the Palestinian National Initiative (PNI) and the Palestinian People’s Party (PPP).
The reconciliation deal calls for all factions to resolve their differences and disputes by holding legislative and presidential elections in all occupied territories, including East Jerusalem, within a year. It recognizes the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) as the sole representative of the Palestinian people and calls for the formation of its National Council with representatives of all the signatories to the agreement within a year.
Ismail Haniyeh, the political bureau chief of Hamas, termed the deal as historic. He thanked Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune for his mediation efforts towards resolving divisions among Palestinian groups.
Senior Fatah leader Azzam al-Ahmad, on behalf of his organization, pledged to execute the agreement to get rid of the “political split and cancer that has entered the Palestinian body.” He admitted that Palestinians were divided for over 15 years which has gravely weakened their cause, Al-Mayadeen reported.
Divisions among various Palestinian groups emerged after the signing of the Oslo peace agreement between the PLO and Israel in 1994-95. A large number of the newer political groups opposed the deal, including Hamas. In the first Palestinian elections held in 2006, Hamas won the majority of seats in the Palestinian Authority, displacing Fatah as the largest group. However, Fatah refused to recognize Hamas’ victory, leading to months of clashes.
Over the years, Palestinian factions have repeatedly attempted to resolve their differences and disputes, however, without much success. These included plans to form an interim national unity government and to hold elections, along with other such agreements which ultimately did not come to fruition due to internal infighting among Palestinian groups and external meddling by Israel.