British media have reported that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu personally authorised the killing of Hamas commander Al Mabhouh. Image Credit: EPA

After four years of feuding and bitter exchanges, Palestine's two main political factions Hamas and Fatah have surprised everyone by announcing that they've reached an agreement and plan to form an interim government — paving the way for Palestine-wide presidential and parliamentary elections within a year.

This significant development has to be viewed within the context of the recent Arab revolutions, including large protests in Palestine itself last month. Leaders in both Hamas and Fatah rightly predicted that with the new Arab order, it would be very unwise to ignore the Palestinian youth's demand for reconciliation and elections. And it is very unlikely that this would have happened under Egypt's old regime and with figures like former intelligence chief Omar Sulaiman, who tried unsuccessfully to bridge a split between the two groups.

The new Egypt was able to provide the right setting for both sides and avoided piling the pressure on Hamas in particular to agree to rigid terms, as was the case in the past.

That Hamas and Fatah managed to confront their differences and resolve all their issues allows for a new phase of Palestinian politics that will bring back the focus on ending Israel's occupation and the Palestinian campaign for statehood.

The international community, starting with the US and the EU, ought to congratulate the Palestinians for reaching this agreement and recognise the importance of political unity for the sake of peace and stability. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who more or less condemned this positive breakthrough and cautioned Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that he must choose between peace with Israel or peace with Hamas, should be singled out for his ridiculous position. Israel should stay out of internal Palestinian matters and focus instead on whether or not it can choose a just peace with Palestinians over its illegal colony activities among other things.