Gaza's Hamas government says ready to step aside

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Photo - FILE - In this file photo provided on Nov. 24, 2011, by the office of Khaled Mashaal, Palestinian Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, left, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas are seen together during their meeting in Cairo, Egypt. A negotiator said Monday, May 26, 2014, that he expects a Palestinian unity government to be announced later this week in what would be a first significant step toward ending the crippling rift between Hamas and Fatah. (AP Photo/Office of Khaled Meshaal, File)
FILE - In this file photo provided on Nov. 24, 2011, by the office of Khaled Mashaal, Palestinian Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, left, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas are seen together during their meeting in Cairo, Egypt. A negotiator said Monday, May 26, 2014, that he expects a Palestinian unity government to be announced later this week in what would be a first significant step toward ending the crippling rift between Hamas and Fatah. (AP Photo/Office of Khaled Meshaal, File)
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GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Gaza's Hamas government says it has concluded its last meeting and is "ready to hand over full responsibility" to a Palestinian unity government.

Tuesday's Cabinet statement was the latest sign that rival factions Hamas and Fatah are close to a deal on forming a unity government that is to prepare for elections in 2015.

The longstanding conflict between the political opponents peaked in 2007, when the Islamic militant Hamas drove the Fatah movement of Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas out of Gaza, leaving his forces confined to the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Since then, both sides have run separate governments in their respective territories.

In April, reconciliation efforts resumed. Negotiations said Tuesday they are close to agreement on the new Cabinet lineup. A formal announcement is expected as early as Thursday.

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