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Hamas cancels West Bank celebrations after 20 members arrested

Jan. 10, 2014 5:31 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 11, 2014 5:37 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Hamas said Friday that it would not hold a celebration in the West Bank for its 26th anniversary after the Palestinian Authority arrested a number of its members.

The celebration was originally planned for Saturday.

Hamas Spokesman Husam Badran said in a statement that PA security forces arrested 20 Hamas members within 24 hours, including members of the planning committee for the celebration, students at al-Najah University, and recently freed prisoners.

Bardran said the arrests would not discourage the Hamas movement.

The cancellation of the celebration comes four days after a Fatah official said Hamas would not allow Fatah's 49th anniversary celebration to be held in Gaza.

Meanwhile, both factions have spoken in favor of national Palestinian reconciliation throughout the last three weeks.

Fatah proposed a national unity plan to Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh on Wednesday, to which Haniyeh responded that he needed time to discuss the plan with other Hamas leaders, a Fatah spokesman told Ma'an.

The head of Fatah's reconciliation team told Ma'an Thursday that he would be visiting Gaza in the coming days to meet with Haniyeh.

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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