Palestinians on Monday reacted with skepticism to news about a “reconciliation” agreement between Fatah and Hamas – the latest in a series of unsuccessful deals that were reached between the two rival parties in the past few years.

The new agreement, which was announced in Cairo on Sunday, calls for the implementation of the Doha Accord, which was signed between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal earlier this year.

The Doha Accord envisages the formation of a Palestinian “national unity government” and holding new presidential and parliamentary elections in the Palestinian territories.

Azzam al-Ahmed, a senior Fatah official who signed Sunday’s agreement on behalf of his faction, said the two sides agreed to start implementing the Doha Accord instantly.

He said that the Palestinian Central Election Committee will resume its work in the Gaza Strip as of May 27 to prepare for new elections.

Fatah and Hamas also agreed to launch immediate talks on the formation of a new unity government as of May 27, Ahmed said. The talks will last only 10 days, after which the new government will be announced, he added.

Fatah had held Hamas responsible for failure to implement the Doha Accord due to internal differences inside the Islamist movement.

Hamas was foiling the agreement by refusing to allow the election committee to start registering voters in the Gaza Strip in preparation for new elections, according to Fatah.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said Monday that his movement has decided to allow the election committee to resume its work in the Gaza Strip.

He also confirmed that the two sides have agreed to launch talks on the formation of a new government whose main mission would be to “rebuild the Gaza Strip.”

The new unity government, Barhoum explained, would serve for only six months, after which Palestinians would be called to vote for a new PA president and parliament.

The latest agreement was reached under the sponsorship of the Egyptian General Intelligence Force, Hamas and Fatah spokesmen said.

The Egyptian-brokered deal came as a surprise to many Palestinians, especially in light of the fact that the PA has just formed a new cabinet in the West Bank headed by Salam Fayyad.

The new PA cabinet was sworn in by Abbas last Thursday – a move that was condemned by Hamas as a fatal blow to efforts to achieve Palestinian unity.

Moreover, the Cairo agreement came as a surprise because it coincided with mounting tensions between Fatah and Hamas, particularly in wake of the PA’s ongoing security crackdown on supporters of the Islamist movement in the West Bank.

Palestinians across the political spectrum expressed doubts as to whether Fatah and Hamas would be able to implement the most recent agreement.

Faisal Abu Shahla, member of the Fatah “Revolutionary Council,” said he hoped the new deal would not remain ink on paper like previous agreements.

The Palestinians, he added, were sick and tired of hearing about new agreements between Fatah and Hamas that are never implemented on the ground.

“We hope this time the two sides are serious in implementing the agreement,” Abu Shahla said. “The Egyptians have promised to follow up with both sides to make sure that the agreement is implemented.”

Rabah Muhana, a senior member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, warned against “excessive optimism” regarding the implementation of Sunday’s agreement.

He also said that Palestinians were hoping that this agreement would not meet the same fate as previous ones.

Saleh Zeidan, a representative of another Palestinian group, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, called on Palestinians to put pressure on Fatah and Hamas to end their dispute.

The rivalry between the two parties has caused tremendous damage to the interests of the Palestinians, he said.

Reflecting the sense of skepticism among Palestinians toward the reconciliation efforts, Sufyan Abu Zaida, a top Fatah official, said: “Most Palestinians have no confidence [in the agreement] because they do not see real changes in the behavior of the two sides.”

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