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Fatah festival in Gaza reflects 'new phase of unity'

Jan. 5, 2013 5:02 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 9, 2013 7:55 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Hamas' involvement in facilitating Fatah's 48th anniversary celebrations in Gaza reflects a new period of unity between the Palestinian factions, Gaza premier Ismail Haniyeh said Saturday.

"We are committed to such a great responsibility and will continue in preparation for the meetings of officials to complete national reconciliation on the basis of solid and unbreakable ties, as they were in previous times," Haniyeh said in a statement.

The Gaza premier sent greetings to members of Gaza's ministry of interior and security forces who had helped organize and monitor the festival.

Meanwhile, Fatah's spokesman in Gaza, Fayez Abu Aita, thanked the leadership in the West Bank and all members of the central committee and revolutionary council who participated in the celebrations.

"We promise our people that Fatah will continue to carry the flag of the revolution to achieve the Palestinian people's goals, hopes and ambitions to regain unity, return and self determination in an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital," he said.

Fatah officials estimated that hundreds of thousands of people attended the anniversary celebrations in Gaza City on Friday, with Hamas allowing the events to take place for the first time since it seized power in 2007.

Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal said Saturday that the Gaza government's involvement in the festival demonstrated a "great national position," with both Fatah and Hamas officials reiterating their commitment to reconciliation.

An Egyptian official told Reuters that Cairo was preparing to invite the factions for new negotiations within two weeks, with the country having already played a crucial role in bringing both sides together in 2011.

The Egyptian-brokered reconciliation deal between Fatah and Hamas has repeatedly stalled, but Israel's eight-day war on the Gaza Strip, which ended on Nov. 21, gave political impetus to ending the division.
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