Finally, good news from Palestine: the leaders of the rival Fatah and Hamas factions have put aside their differences, and agreed to form a national unity government, healing the harmful rift that since 2007 has divided Palestinians living on the West Bank from those in Gaza.
The historic move offers the citizens of Palestine new hope of getting to vote in much-delayed democratic elections.
Sadly, not everyone sees the democratic progress as positive. Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, was quick to threaten Fatah leaders with dire "consequences" for Israeli-Palestinian peace talks: "You can't have it both ways," he warned. "It's either a pact with Hamas or peace with Israel."
Most will see this strident rhetoric for what it is: under Netanyahu's leadership, the peace process has remained stalled for so long that Palestinians now have little to lose. Not to mention that the US, Israel's firm ally, has quietly supported a reconciliation for some time. A spokesmen for the US State Department greeted news of the deal with cautious neutrality, calling it an "internal" matter.
The deal may also reflect a valuable lesson learned from the Arab Spring: that peaceful actions can achieve far more than violence. Hamas may not yet have formally renounced its armed struggle against Israel, but its leaders have watched non-violent mass protests in Egypt and Tunisia take Islamist parties further than rockets attacks and suicide bombings. And because of the continuing turmoil in Syria, the organisation's Damascus-based leadership urgently needs to find a new home.
New hope, new challenges
Under the terms of the deal, negotiated in Qatar, Fatah leader and current Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas will continue as president of the interim Palestinian government. He is someone the Israelis have dealt with in the past, and no doubt will have to again.
Much remains uncertain. Khaled Meshal, the long-exiled head of Hamas's political wing, is stepping down following rumours of internal rifts, leaving important questions open about the future direction of Hamas. It's also unclear if or how hawks in Netanyahu's government will translate their threats into action.
But the overwhelming message today is one of hope: of a harmful rift healed, of the peaceful route taken, and of the Palestinian people moving one step closer to badly-needed elections.
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