Palestinians celebrate after an announcement of a reconciliation agreement in Gaza City April 23, 2014. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa
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Israel and the Palestinians were back to square one in the peace process on Friday after the Jewish state torpedoed US-sponsored talks in response to a Fatah-Hamas reconciliation deal.The two sides have been on a collision course since March when Israel refused to release a batch of Palestinian prisoners in line with the US-brokered agreement on resuming the talks.Israel and the United States were hoping to extend the talks beyond the deadline as they have failed to achieve any concrete results so far.Experts in Gaza added that Hamas, which refuses to recognise Israel and advocates an armed struggle against it, was "pragmatic" and has a keen economic and political interest in the reconciliation deal.The Gaza Strip -- ruled by Hamas while Abbas's writ is confined to the West Bank -- has been besieged by Israel since 2006 and facing a dire humanitarian and economic situation.
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