Palestinian officials say Hamas and the Fatah party of President Mahmoud Abbas are making a new attempt to overcome the Palestinians' political split by holding general elections in seven months.

Similar agreements were reached in principle in the past but never implemented.

The Islamic militant Hamas seized Gaza from Abbas in 2007, leaving him with only parts of the West Bank. Both sides have become entrenched in their territories.

Abbas sent a delegation to Gaza this week for reconciliation talks.

Bassam Salhi, one of those sent by Abbas, said on Wednesday that under an emerging agreement, a joint interim government would be formed within five weeks, followed six months later by elections.

A Hamas official confirmed the outlines of the deal, speaking on condition of anonymity pending a formal announcement.