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Official: Hamas will decide where to stage Fatah festival in Gaza

Dec. 19, 2012 5:13 A.M. (Updated: Dec. 21, 2012 7:16 A.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Hamas is considering a suitable location for a festival to celebrate Fatah's 48th anniversary, a senior Hamas official said Wednesday.

"Hamas encouraged the Gaza government to allow Fatah to have a complete festival in the Gaza Strip," Salah Bardawil told Ma'an.

The festival has been approved and the Gaza government will make sure the venue is spacious enough, he added.

The Hamas-led government is responsible for determining the location just as the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority allocated the locations for Hamas' recent anniversary celebrations in the West Bank, Bardawil said.

Gaza security services and the Ministry of Interior will maintain order during the Fatah festival, Bardawil said, adding that no one else could "claim responsibility for that."

Fatah officials have complained that Hamas refused their request to hold an anniversary celebration in Gaza City's al-Katiba square, where Hamas and Islamic Jihad rallies are held.

Hamas and Fatah representatives met earlier Wednesday to discuss arrangements for the festival, and a Fatah official in Gaza said that Hamas had only suggested covered venues rather than an open square for the event.

Fatah leader in Gaza Yahya Rabah said Wednesday that the top priority was to celebrate in Gaza, and the venue was less important.

Fatah will try and maintain the positive atmosphere around reconciliation, Rabah told Ma'an.

"We don't intend to send any negative gestures as we are trying to maintain the ongoing contact with Hamas both in the West Bank and abroad," he said, adding that festival arrangements would be announced later.
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