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Haniyeh: 80 Fatah members can return to Gaza

Jan. 21, 2012 5:13 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 22, 2012 4:47 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said Saturday that his Hamas-led government will allow the return of 80 Fatah supporters who left the Gaza Strip when his Hamas party took power.

Fatah affiliates fled Gaza after fierce clashes between forces from the rival factions in mid-2007, which led to the establishment of separate administrations and security forces in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.

Speaking at a news conference in Gaza City, Haniyeh called for the completion of the national reconciliation process which was launched after party leaders signed a deal to unite the governments in May 2011.

His comments came after Haniyeh met members of the reconciliation 'freedoms committee' in the Gaza Strip, tasked with implementation of tenets of the deal including freeing political prisoners, issuing passports in Gaza, and ending infighting.

Gaza government spokesman Taher al-Nunu said after the meeting that Haniyeh also agreed to the return of 26 former employees of the Ministry of Interior's passport section, to facilitate the issuing of passports in the coastal enclave.

Haniyeh told the committee he will release "category C" political prisoners to coincide with West Bank releases, without elaborating on the categorization of jailed activists.

"We will study the committee's request to release the political prisoners in Gaza in the coming two days," the premier added.

Islamic Jihad member of the committee Khalid al-Batsh applauded Haniyeh’s decision and called on the government in Ramallah to take similar actions and to fully support the committee's work.

"We are going to end the split and the 'train of the reconciliation' is set in motion, albeit slowly," al-Batsh said. He added that hoped there will be an end to the suffering of the political prisoners and an end to the division by the end of the month.

Dweik detention 'demands PLC reactivation'

Meanwhile, the premier in Gaza City slammed Israel's detention of parliament speaker Aziz Dweik on Friday, saying "Israeli piracy against legitimate Palestinian leaders is not unprecedented."

Earlier, he called for a parliamentary session to be held in February to respond to the detentions, comments echoed by the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

Deputy speaker of the PLC Ahmad Bahar told reporters at the press conference that the Palestinian Authority should set a clear and firm position of reactivating the PLC in the West Bank.

A new "national unity session" of the parliament should be activated to protect all the decisions made by party leaders in the reconciliation deal.

The spokesman of an Algerian delegation visiting the coastal strip urged parliaments in the Arab and Islamic world to intervene to free Dweik and all other Palestinian lawmakers in Israeli jails.

He described the detention of Dweik as a disgrace harming all Arab and Islamic parliaments.

Haniyeh said the participation of the Algerian delegates in the solidarity conference showed Dweik has become a "symbol of glory not only at a local level."

Palestinian resistance remains strong, stable and deep-rooted despite the detention of lawmakers, leaders and officials, the Gaza premier said.

"The (Israeli) occupation is powerless in front of those leaders and lawmakers who sacrificed their souls and blood for their homeland," he added.
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