Palestinian factions agree to deal

CAIRO (AP) — Fifteen Palestinian factions, including militant Islamic groups, endorsed a reconciliation deal Tuesday meant to end a four-year rift between the two major Palestinian political movements, Hamas and Fatah.

The declaration paved the way for the two groups to sign the agreement on Wednesday, then form a unity caretaker government to prepare for national elections next year.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a last-minute appeal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to cancel the impending unity deal, which he called a “hard blow to the peace process.”

A draft of the document, obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press, set a goal of “ending the divisions” and promises parliamentary and presidential elections within a year but left key issues like control of security forces and relations toward Israel vague.

The deal marks a major step toward ending the divisions that have left the Palestinians split between rival governments since 2007.

But reconciliation could also spell the end of hopes for peace talks with Israel, which considers Hamas a terrorist organization and says it will not negotiate with a Palestinian government that includes the Iranian-backed group.

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