GAZA CITY -- Rival Palestinian factions announced the latest deal and timeline to implement their long-delayed unity government and hold new elections, but skepticism remained high about whether the two sides were close to mending their differences.
An agreement reached in Cairo on Sunday night calls for an elections commission to begin its work in the Gaza Strip on May 27 followed by an election six months later, according to Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum.
Also next week both sides are supposed to renew talks toward forming a unity government.
It's been a year since the Islamist militant group Hamas and the secular Fatah Party announced an agreement to reconcile after five years of division. The last Palestinian elections were held in 2006.
But last week, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, head of the West Bank-based Fatah Party, said he could no longer wait for Hamas to begin preparing for elections and formed a new Cabinet without consulting his rival. The new government is led by Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, whom Hamas wanted to replace because it considers him too pro-Western.
-- Rushdi Abualouf
Photo: Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, right, during the swearing in ceremony of the new Cabinet of his Prime Minister Salam Fayyad at Abbas' headquarters in the West Bank town of Ramallah last week. Credit: Atef Safadi / European Pressphoto Agency