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Fatah calls for boycott of Qatari emir's visit

Oct. 22, 2012 10:04 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 23, 2012 7:48 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Fatah on Monday called on Palestinians to boycott a visit of the Qatari emir to the Gaza Strip.

Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani is expected to visit Gaza on Tuesday to inaugurate reconstruction projects worth $254 million. He will be the first head of state to visit the Hamas-run enclave since Israel imposed a siege on Gaza in 2006.

Fatah's office in Gaza said the visit would entrench the division between the West Bank, governed by the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority, and the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.

"Looking for a political power in the region at the expense of the Palestinian people and their rights and unity is unacceptable," Fatah said in a statement, adding that aid to the Palestinian people was not a gift but "a national and holy duty."

Fatah said all aid to Palestinians should be channeled through the Palestine Liberation Organization and its leader President Mahmoud Abbas.

It said those using Palestinian suffering for their own "narrow goals" should look for ways to support Palestinians to achieve their rights internationally.

Earlier Monday, Fatah leader Yahya Rabah told Ma'an that Fatah had not been invited to meet Sheikh al-Thani by Qatar or Hamas.

Spokesman of the Hamas-led government Taher al-Nunu insisted that Fatah had declined an invitation to attend the welcoming celebration for the emir.

Popular Struggle Front leader Mohammad al-Ziq said his party had declined an invitation from Hamas to join the welcoming ceremony.

Al-Ziq said the emir's visit would further the division and legitimize the national split while the PLO was trying to win state membership of the UN.

The Popular Front of the Liberation of Palestine also criticized the visit.

"We are surprised that emir of Qatar will visit Qaza at this time," PFLP's general leadership said in a statement. "This visit is serving the Israeli occupation and will enhance the geographic division between Gaza and the West Bank."

PFLP said the millions of dollars donated to Gaza by Qatar would not mask "the real political reasons" behind his visit.

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