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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 June 2006, 17:11 GMT 18:11 UK
Palestinian deal aims for unity
Roger Hardy
Middle East analyst, BBC News

Hamas supporters demonstrate outside Palestinian parliament in Ramallah
Tensions between Hamas and Fatah supporters have been high

The agreement between Palestinian political factions - including Hamas and Fatah - on a document which implicitly recognises Israel, is designed to pave the way for a government of national unity.

The document - first drawn up by Palestinian prisoners - is not designed as an olive branch to Israel.

Its purpose is to end the serious factional strife between Hamas, the Islamist party which won Palestinian elections in January, and Fatah, the nationalist party it defeated.

But if the document really does serve to heal the factional rift - which at the moment is a rather big "if" - then it could have implications for Israel and for international peace-makers including the United States and the European Union.

Healing the rift

In theory, a national-unity government might be able to persuade Western countries to resume economic aid, and might eventually enter negotiations with Israel.

But all that is in the future.

By itself, the document does not meet the conditions set by Israel and the West - that Hamas renounce violence, recognise Israel and accept existing peace agreements.

And there is also still the unfinished business of the young Israeli soldier captured by Palestinian militants two days ago.

Until that issue is resolved, the Palestinians will continue to endure what is in effect a political boycott and an economic siege.


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