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Passengers cross the Rafah border after Egypt re-opens it

Copyright © africanews
SAID KHATIB/AFP or licensors

The Gaza Strip

Passengers on Tuesday crossed the Rafah border travelling from the Gaza Strip into Egypt, after it opened following an Egyptian announcement to let through incoming traffic until further notice.

The opening comes after talks Monday in Cairo cleared the way for the first elections in the West Bank and Gaza since 2006.

Key Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas are taking part in the talks, Egypt's state television said.

"The national dialogue sessions are underway in Cairo under the auspices of (Egyptian) President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi," it reported.

Before his departure to Cairo, Fatah's delegation head Jibril Rajub was upbeat: "We are confident we will overcome any obstacles in going ahead with legislative elections slated for May 22."

On the agenda figure thorny issues such as judicial and security arrangements for the vote and the fate of Palestinian voters in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem.

The polls will be the first Palestinian parliamentary elections in 15 years.

The Islamist movement Hamas won an unexpected landslide in th e last vote, a victory not recognised by president Mahmud Abbas's Fatah, leading to bloody clashes the following year and a split in Palestinian governance.

Fatah has run the Palestinian Authority in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Hamas has held power in the Gaza Strip since 2007, the year Israel imposed a devastating blockade on the Mediterranean enclave.

The divide has left the Pa lestinian territories under two different political systems and without a functioning parliament.

Fourteen Palestinian political groups are taking part in the sessions sponsored by Egypt, as it seeks to leverage its regional clout.

The talks come on the same day as an emergency Arab League meeting, also held in Cairo, to discuss the Palestinian cause.