A senior official from Palestinian party Fatah arrived in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip on Tuesday, ahead of reconciliation talks aimed at forming a unity government between the bitter rivals.
The Palestine Liberation Organisation, which is dominated by president Mahmud Abbas's Fatah, signed a surprise reconciliation agreement in late April after years of political infighting and a seemingly unbridgeable split.
"I will meet over the next two days with Hamas leaders to discuss forming a government," senior Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmed told AFP after he arrived in the besieged Strip through the Israeli-controlled Erez border crossing.
Under the terms of the April 23 deal, the two sides would work together to form an "independent government" of technocrats, to be headed by Abbas, that would pave the way for long-delayed elections.
Representatives from both Fatah and Hamas have met several times for talks on a final line-up for the government to end their division after Hamas violently routed Fatah from Gaza in 2007.
The reconciliation agreement incensed Israel, putting the final nail in the coffin of faltering US-led peace talks between the Jewish state and the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority.3r