Hamas and Fatah have agreed to establish a Palestinian unity government.

According to the deal, which follows talks held in Moscow, the Palestinian factions – including the Islamic Jihad – will join the PLO institutions and form a new Palestinian National Council. The new council will select the PLO Executive Committee, the top political and diplomatic Palestinian body.

The Palestinian factions agreed that over the next two months new members will be elected to the National Council and the sides will try to form a new government.

“We have reached agreement under which, within 48 hours, we will call on [Palestinian Authority President] Mahmoud Abbas to launch consultations on the creation of a [national unity] government,” Azzam al-Ahmad, a senior official of the ruling Fatah party, told a press conference.

The talks were held in Moscow to restore “the unity of the Palestinian people,” which has been lacking ever since the terrorist group Hamas launched a coup against Fatah and seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007. Both Hamas and the Iran-backed terror group Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which also attended the talks, have pledged to destroy Israel.

A Fatah-Hamas unity government would violate one of the principles for Middle East peace set out by the Mideast Quartet, (the United States, Russia, European Union, and United Nations). In 2006, the Quartet stated that “all members of a future Palestinian Government must be committed to non-violence, recognition of Israel, and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations.”

Last year the Palestinian government postponed the first municipal polls in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 10 years, after the Ramallah-based high court ruled they should be held only in the so-called West Bank, which is run by Fatah.

The last time the Palestinians staged elections in which both Hamas and Fatah took part was in 2006, when Hamas claimed an unexpected victory in Gaza.

The two parties have made numerous attempts to reconcile over the past decade without lasting success. However, Ahmad, the Fatah spokesman, claimed that “today the conditions for [a unity initiative] are better than ever.”

Sources: Haaretz/TheTower