Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is to unveil a unity government by Thursday, ending seven years of rival administrations in the West Bank and Gaza, an official has said.

"We have finished consultations on the national consensus government," Azzam al-Ahmed, an envoy from Abbas's Fatah movement, told the AFP news agency on Tuesday after talks in Gaza with its Hamas rulers.

"The announcement will come from the president in the next two days."

The Palestine Liberation Organisation, which is dominated by Fatah, signed a surprise reconciliation deal with Hamas on April 23, giving the two sides five weeks to draw up an "independent government" of technocrats headed by Abbas.

Agreement on a unity government would pave the way for long-delayed presidential and parliamentary elections.

Hamas won a landslide victory in the last parliamentary elections in 2006.

But the EU and the US have refused to have any dealings with the movement until it renounces violence and recognises Israel and past peace deals.

Representatives of the rival factions have held several rounds of talks to heal the bad blood since Hamas expelled Fatah from Gaza in deadly clashes in 2007.

The April reconciliation deal incensed Israel, which reacted by leaving US-brokered peace talks with Abbas's West Bank-based leadership.

Source: AFP