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Fatah, Hamas meet in Gaza ahead of party anniversary

Jan. 2, 2013 6:24 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 3, 2013 9:39 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- Gaza premier Ismail Haniyeh on Wednesday convened Hamas and Fatah delegations ahead of the first Fatah rally in the Gaza Strip since the parties' bitter division.

Fatah will hold its 48th anniversary celebrations in al-Saraya square, Gaza City on Friday.

It will be the first time that Hamas has allowed Fatah to hold such events since seizing the coastal enclave from the secular faction in 2007. Fatah also permitted a Hamas anniversary rally in the West Bank earlier this month for the first time in six years.

Haniyeh welcomed a Fatah delegation, including senior official Nabil Shaath, ahead of the event to discuss security arrangements.

"This festival and the general environment will prepare for reconciliation and end the split. We gave directions to security services to make the festival successful," Haniyeh told the meeting.

The Fatah and Hamas delegations were briefed by Haniyeh's security chief on the arrangements to secure the festival, as well as preparatory celebrations held this week in Gaza.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told reporters that his party "are interested in ensuring the success of this festival to secure the completion of this great national occasion."

Shaath stressed no security incident could undermine the conciliatory atmosphere of the festival.

"We have tried negotiations sponsored by Egypt and reached many agreements, but this time it was inspired by the spirit of the masses," Shaath said, referring to popular pressure over the repeated failure of reconciliation talks between the parties.
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