The two factions have been taking part in reconciliation talks held parallel to indirect negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians in Cairo. Israeli participation in the overall talks is in hiatus due to the two-day New Year holiday, which ends Friday night.
The accord, vague in many of its particulars, was announced on the eve of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' address to the U.N. General Assembly. Abbas was expected to call for an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem within three years.
Abu Marzouk and Azzam Ahmad, who led his Fatah faction’s delegation to the Cairo talks, said the new arrangement would help pave the way for badly needed construction materials to be brought into Gaza. Because Hamas previously used tons of imported cement to construct “attack tunnels” leading into Israel, the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has demanded stringent security measures at the crossings.
The United Nations is expected to help monitor the import of construction materials and other goods.
Whole neighborhoods in Gaza were left in ruins by airstrikes aimed at destroying Hamas rockets and launching sites, together with Hamas-built infiltration tunnels running under densely populated neighborhoods. More than 10,000 Palestinian homes were destroyed, together with several large high-rise buildings and much of the already fragile infrastructure in the territory.
A donors conference is to convene Oct. 12 in Cairo on the reconstruction of Gaza, where damage estimates have been put at a minimum of $4 billion.
Abukhater is a special correspondent. Special correspondent Amro Hassan in Cairo contributed to this report.