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Fatah, Hamas urge unity at Gaza rallies

Nov. 22, 2012 5:36 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 26, 2012 10:55 A.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- In a rare display of unity, leaders of Hamas, Fatah and other Palestinian factions on Thursday celebrated the end of the war on Gaza and called for parties to end the split with the West Bank.

Thousands took to the streets of Gaza in joint political rallies marking an end to eight days of deadly fighting, and Fatah supporters marched calling for their faction to end its rivalry with Gaza rulers Hamas.

Fatah leader Nabil Shaath, who came to Gaza on Sunday during the Israeli shelling, told crowds in Gaza City that Israel had failed to isolate them from the West Bank.

“How glad I feel when yellow, green, red and black flags fly together, united by the Palestinian flag. We must all unite and work together,” he said, referring to the motifs of Fatah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and leftist factions.

"Today our unity materialised, Hamas and Fatah are one hand, one rifle and one rocket," senior Hamas leader Khalil Al-Hayya told several thousand people in the main square of Gaza.

Islamic Jihad leader Muhammad al-Hindi said factions should unify behind the resistance movement, hinting at the enduring divisions with Fatah, who espouse non-violent and diplomatic measures against Israel’s occupation.

"We have reached a dead end in the peace process and now we are in the trenches of jihad and resistance," he told the Gaza City rally.

But the Jihad leader too echoed the conciliatory note of the occasion. "Nothing will strengthen the determination of Palestinians more than the Palestinian people themselves, with all of their factions," al-Hindi said.

UN bid

Hamas's Gaza chief and prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, called Fatah leader President Mahmoud Abbas to brief him on the situation, the official news agency of Abbas’ government said Thursday.

Al-Hindi and Hamas deputy speaker of the Palestinian parliament also called Abbas, Wafa reported.

Wafa said all three confirmed their support the president's bid for Palestinian status as a non-member state at the UN, due for a vote next week.

Haniyeh's pledge of support for the bid was quickly refuted by Gaza government spokesman Taher al-Nunu, describing Wafa’s report as "completely untrue."

Haniyeh’s office said Abbas called the premier and "congratulated him on the victory and extend condolences to the families of martyrs."

Meanwhile, Palestinian National Initiative leader Mustafa al-Barghouthi, who also came to Gaza during the Israeli bombardment, held a meeting of national and Islamic factions in Gaza City on Thursday.

The meeting, also attended by the head of the Palestinian Arab Front Jamil Shahareh, stressed the importance of completing the "Gaza's victory" by finally realizing the stalled reconciliation deal.

Reconciliation 'most important step' for UN

The Fatah movement held rallies across the Gaza Strip, including a march by mayors and Fatah personalities in Gaza City.

"All Palestinians should be united in order to fight the Israeli occupation," senior Fatah official Yahya Rabah told Ma’an.

Amal Hamad, a member of the Fatah central committee, said implementing national reconciliation was the most important step for the success of the UN bid.

The Egyptian-brokered reconciliation deal between his faction and Hamas has repeatedly stalled, after they violently split Palestine into separate governments in 2007.

Fatah MP Faysal Abu Shahla called on Egyptian authorities to hold a meeting for all Palestinian factions to end the division at Thursday's rally.

Israel agreed a truce deal with Hamas and other Gaza factions on Wednesday with Egyptian mediation.
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