After almost two years of bloodshed, various Palestinian factions have agreed to come together and work toward a unified government, reports Al Jazeera English. The factions, including Fatah and Hamas, met in Cairo today for the Egyptian-brokered reconciliation talks and set up five committees to address key issues to unity.
The five committees established at the meeting will deal with issues including the formation of a unity government, rebuilding institutions, establishing presidential and legislative elections, security services, and reconciliation.
The immediate release of political detainees in Gaza and the West Bank was also promised.
The national unity government is expected to be set up by the end of March, writes Agenzia Giornalistica Italia.
The agreement should lead to a government recognised by the international community and put an end to the 18 months of separation between the West bank, led by president Abu Mazen, and the Gaza Strip, where Hamas threw our PNA representatives.
Delegations from about a dozen Palestinian groups are taking part in the discussions and have pledged an era of unity, reports BBC News. The talks were held at the Cairo office of the Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman.
"We have no choice but to succeed and to move forward dramatically on the road to end division... You are responsible for your people," [Suleiman] told the delegates.
Solving Fatah-Hamas differences is seen also as an essential step if an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal is to happen - although with Israel also at a political crossroads analysts say that could be a long way off.
The Telegraph, however, reports that the spokesman for the Palestinian Authority denied that any progress had been made.
Hussein Hussein, spokesman for the Palestinian Authority, which is led by Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank, denied that any progress had been made in the talks, which have only just begun.
"They started today and nothing new has emerged," he said.
The reconciliation talks opened after Fatah and Hamas agreed on confidence-building measures to resolve the fate of prisoners detained by both sides.