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Hamas to release 7 Fatah prisoners as unity gesture

Jan. 8, 2014 2:09 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 8, 2014 8:00 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Gaza's Ministry of Interior on Wednesday announced that it would release seven imprisoned Fatah members held in custody for security reasons.

A spokesman for the ministry, Ibrahim Salah, told Ma'an that "upon a decision by the prime minister, the ministry will release seven Fatah-affiliated prisoners as a first stage."

Salah said he hoped Fatah would make a similar gesture in the West Bank.

Hamas and Fatah have secretly resumed reconciliation talks in an attempt to finalize an agreement.

On Monday, AFP reported Gaza premier Ismail Haniyeh as saying that "The (Hamas) government will allow all Fatah members who are from Gaza and who left the Strip (in 2007) to return, without any preconditions," apart from those accused of killing Hamas members during intense factional fighting that year.

The division between the two Palestinian factions began in 2006, when Hamas won the Palestinian legislative elections.

In the following year, clashes erupted between Fatah and Hamas, leaving Hamas in control of the Strip and Fatah in control of parts of the occupied West Bank.

The groups have made failed attempts at national reconciliation for years, most recently in 2012, when they signed two agreements -- one in Cairo and a subsequent one in Doha -- which have as of yet been entirely unimplemented.
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