May 4, 2011 - 12:00am

Lebanese caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Wednesday welcomed the reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas, calling for international support to the deal.

The reconciliation between the two parties was a blessed step to protect the Palestinian people and establish an independent state, Hariri said in a statement.

In addition to stressing the need for the Arab world to provide complete support to the agreement, the Lebanese government also called on the international community to comply with the requirements of the Palestinian national unity, and not to give Israel any opportunity to attack this unity or delay the effects of the agreement, Hariri said.

Hariri's remarks came as the leaders of Hamas and Fatah, the two main Palestinian factions, signed a reconciliation deal in Cairo, attempting to end a four-year split which began after Fatah refused to recognize Hamas's victory in the elections in 2006. The agreement is expected to pave the way for a joint interim government before the general elections next year.

The agreement "lays the foundation for the emergence of a real and unified Palestinian authority capable of confronting the challenges and the Israeli pressure," said Hariri.

"We hope that the Palestinian reconciliation would represent an incentive to recognize the rights of the Palestinian people, and would not become, as a result of the Israeli stance, a new tool to pressure the Palestinians, because this would keep the whole region a hostage of violence and disputes," said Hariri.


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