Rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah have agreed to return to a stalled reconciliation deal, officials said today.
No official announcements had been made as the Star went to press on Wednesday's Cairo meeting between Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah.
But diplomats at the meeting said the two - meeting for the first time in more than a year - had agreed to implement a May 2011 reconciliation deal.
Under the Egypt-brokered plan the two factions would cede power to a coalition of independents to oversee fresh legislative elections, at one point slated for May 2012.
The rival movements have been at loggerheads since Hamas won parliamentary elections in 2006.
Tensions rose until Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in the midst of bloody fighting in June 2007.
The crux of the dispute centres on Palestine's approach to Israel.
The secularist Fatah has long given up on violence and sought to engage in peace talks while the Islamist Hamas has taken a far more confrontational approach.
But the relations have thawed after Israel's brutal assault on Gaza in November and President Abbas's West Bank government's successful state recognition bid at the UN.
Following the November fighting, Fatah allowed Hamas to stage a rally in the West Bank and in return, Hamas allowed thousands of demonstrators to celebrate Fatah's 48th anniversary last week - the first rally since taking over the strip.
Earlier on Wednesday Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, whose Muslim Brotherhood is the parent organisation of Hamas, met both President Abbas and Mr Mashaal separately.
But Mr Abbas also refused to take part in a meeting with the two faction leaders at the same time, to avoid allowing Mr Mashaal to appear as a head of state.
Despite the talks, tensions between the two groups have by no means gone away.
Hamas deputy leader Moussa Abu Marzouq, who is widely tipped to take over from Mr Mashaal shortly, slammed Mr Abbas's recent threat to "hand over the keys" of the West Bank to Israel if peace talks fail.
He said they should go to Hamas instead.
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