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Palestinian Factions Sign Historic Reconciliation Agreement

Palestinian factions announced they would form a unity government within five weeks, a move that could imperil U.S.-backed peace talks with Israel.

The pact between Gaza-based Islamist group Hamas and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Palestinian Liberation Organization envisions holding national elections six months after a vote of confidence by the Palestinian parliament, both sides said at a joint conference on Wednesday.

Image: Senior Hamas, Fatah and Palestinian parliamentary figures in Gaza City on Tuesday
Senior Hamas leader Moussa Abu Marzouk (left) senior Fatah official Azzam Al-Ahmed (2nd left), head of the Hamas government Ismail Haniyeh (3rd left) and deputy speaker of Palestinian Parliament Ahmed Bahar attend a meeting in Gaza City on Tuesday. The different factions announced they had signed a unity agreement on Wednesday. MOHAMMED SALEM / Reuters

Hamas and Abbas' Fatah party-led Palestine Liberation Organisation held a fence-mending session on Tuesday in the Gaza Strip. It was their first since a 2007 conflict in which forces loyal to the Western-backed Abbas lost control of the enclave to Hamas, an opponent of peace with Israel.

Obama Says 'Now Is the Time' for Israeli, Palestinian Peace 1:17

Earlier, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Abbas had to choose between peace with Israel or peace with Hamas.

"Does he (Abbas) want peace with Hamas or peace with Israel?" he told a reporter before the agreement was officially announced. "You can have one but not the other."

On Tuesday, Abbas warned that if Mideast peace talks fail Israel will be responsible for governing, funding, and providing security for Palestinian lands.

Reuters contributed to this report.