The Palestinian movement Hamas announced on Sunday that it was ready to hold general elections after it dissolved its administration in the Gaza Strip.
This is seen as a bid to end the long dispute with Fatah movement chief President Mahmoud Abbas.
Hamas said in a statement on Sunday that it has dissolved its shadow government, that it will allow the reconciliation government to operate in Gaza and that it agrees to hold elections and enter talks with Fatah.
"The administrative committee is now dissolved and the government can come to Gaza today to assume its responsibilities and duties," Hamas official Hussam Badran told The Associated Press.
"We accepted that as a sign of our good will toward reconciliation.”
Fatah welcomed the Hamas’ announcement, but said it wants to see vows implemented before making the next move.
Mahmoud Aloul, a senior Fatah official welcomed cautiously Hamas’s position. “If this is Hamas statement, then this is a positive sign,” he told Reuters.
“We in Fatah movement are ready to implement reconciliation.”
The last Palestinian legislative election was held in 2006 when Hamas scored a surprise victory, which laid the ground for a political rupture.
Armed clashes erupted between Hamas and Fatah in Gaza in 2007 and since then Hamas has governed the small coastal enclave.
Numerous attempts since 2011 to reconcile the two movements and form a power-sharing unity government in Gaza and the West Bank have so far failed.
Hamas and Fatah agreed in 2014 to form a national reconciliation government, but despite that agreement, Hamas’s shadow government has continued to rule the Gaza Strip.
Hoping to pressure Hamas to relinquish control of Gaza, Abbas has cut payments to Israel for the electricity it supplies to Gaza. This means that electricity has often been provided for less than four hours a day, and never more than six.
Representatives for Abbas, who is in New York ahead of the UN General Assembly this week, could not be reached for comment, nor could Fatah representatives presently in Egypt, which has been hosting talks with Hamas.
Azzam al-Ahmed, a Fatah participant in the talks, said Hamas and Fatah agreed to meet in Cairo within 10 days, during which time the national unity government should assume its responsibility in Gaza.