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Abu Obeida: Abbas must release detainees for unity

April 2, 2011 10:47 A.M. (Updated: April 3, 2011 1:58 P.M.)
GAZA (Ma'an) -- Hamas' armed wing said Friday that President Mahmoud Abbas must release the party's affiliates detained in the West Bank to achieve national unity.

Al-Qassam Brigades spokesman Abu Obeida issued a statement in response to Abbas' initiative to visit Gaza for unity talks.

Abbas' initiative aims to end the division between his Fatah party, which heads the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, and Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip.

Abu Obeida said national unity could only succeed if Abbas released political prisoners in the West Bank and stopped coordinating with Israel.

Abbas accepted an invitation from Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh to visit Gaza in the wake of mass youth protests across the occupied Palestinian territories calling for Palestinian reconciliation.

The March 15 movement is calling for elections for the Palestinian National Council to end the division.

Protesters started a hunger strike, demanding that Hamas and Fatah release all political detainees and stop inciting against each other in the media. Palestinian detainees held in Israeli jails have joined the hunger strike in support of the youth movement.
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