Fatah's Azzam al-Ahmed, Hamas's Ismail Haniyeh
Fatah's Azzam al-Ahmed, Hamas's Ismail HaniyehAbed Rahim Khatib/Flash 90

Hamas and Fatah on Thursday missed another deadline to implement a reconciliation deal, potentially burying the accord aimed at ending their decade-long split, AFP reported.

The two groups signed a reconciliation deal last October, under which the Palestinian Authority (PA) was to have resumed full control of Gaza by December 1.

The handover was missed, however, due to what was described as “obstacles”, and a February 1 deadline for solving the issue of two rival civil services passed Thursday with no progress in sight.

While small changes have occurred since the deal was signed in October – notably the handing over of Gaza's borders to the PA -- Hamas remains firmly in charge in Gaza.

Hamas and Fatah traded blame for what could turn out to be a gradual abandoning of the accord.

Senior Hassam official Bassem Naim said the Fatah-led PA had backed away from the deal "without clear reasons", while Fayez Abu Eita, a Fatah official in Gaza, called for Hamas to respect the deal.

Egypt, which brokered the agreement, has elections coming up and the focus of its leaders appears elsewhere, noted AFP.

Earlier this week, the United Nations' Middle East envoy warned Gaza was on the verge of "full collapse" and said the key to saving Gaza from disaster was restoring the government of PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas to power there.

Since Hamas violently seized control of Gaza in 2007, two separate civil administrations emerged and all previous attempts to reconcile differences have failed.

The PA kept on its payroll tens of thousands of employees, who stayed home but still claimed their salaries, while Hamas employed tens of thousands to replace them.

This and the as yet unresolved future of Hamas's vast armed wing are the two key issues that have derailed previous reconciliation bids.

Abbas has demanded that the armed militias in Gaza disarm as part of the implementation of the agreement, but Hamas has categorically rejected this demand.