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Rallies held in Gaza, Ramallah to urge Hamas and Fatah to end rivalry

Oct. 22, 2016 10:17 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 24, 2016 7:21 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- A nonpartisan Palestinian group known as Patriots to End Disagreement and Restore National Unity organized rallies in Gaza City and Ramallah on Saturday, to urge political rivals Fatah and Hamas to put an end to their disputes.

Scores of Palestinians gathered in Unknown Soldier’s Square in Gaza City, including representatives of Palestinian political factions and civil society groups.

Coordinator of the national unity group Yusri Darwish said in a statement that “the mass participation in the rally today sends a message that, despite obstacles, we reject the crime of national disagreement." 

He added that Palestinian security forces prevented access to buses transporting activists from across the Gaza Strip.

According to Darwish, the rally was the first public activity to be organized by the group. More events, he said, would be organized to attempt to put pressure on rival parties end their rivalry.

Leader of the left-wing Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) Talal Abu Tharifa said during a speech at the rally that Palestinians should urge Hamas and Fatah to end their disputes and start a "comprehensive nationalistic dialogue that involves the entire Palestinian political spectrum."

The same group organized a rally in Ramallah in the central West Bank on Saturday afternoon.

Hundreds of activists marched in the city waving Palestinian flags and chanting national unity slogans and urging Hamas and Fatah to end their rivalries.

The relationship between Hamas and Fatah has been in a dire state after a government of national consensus was dissolved in June 2015, one year after it was first announced.

The two Palestinian parties have had particularly tense relations since Hamas won legislative elections in 2006 and became the ruling party in the Gaza Strip.

Meanwhile, municipal elections set to be held earlier this month were postponed following a controversial decision by the Fatah-run Supreme Court in Ramallah. They were to be the first elections in the Gaza Strip in a decade.

Officials from the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority have criticized Hamas for creating a shadow government in the Gaza Strip and blocking efforts to reach political unity.

Hamas has in turn accused the PA of executing a plan to "eradicate" the movement from the West Bank, saying that an arrest campaign of hundreds of members was carried out by the PA to target reconciliation efforts between the two factions.
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