Rival Palestinian groups unite over Gaza

2012-11-19 22:42


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Ramallah - Rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas said on Monday they had agreed to end their infighting in a show of solidarity over the spiralling Gaza crisis, in which at least 105 Palestinians have been killed.

The elusive agreement between Hamas and Fatah - a less militant movement that runs the West Bank and is viewed by Israel as a possible negotiating partner - was announced following a meeting between senior representatives of both sides.

"From here, we announce with other [factional] leaders, that we are ending the division," Fatah's Jibril Rajoub told a crowd of about 1 000 who had gathered for a demonstration in the West Bank's political centre Ramallah.

Among those present were top members of Hamas's leadership in the West Bank, as well as senior officials from its smaller rival Islamic Jihad.

Ramallah's Manara Square was a sea of Palestinian flags as the crowd chanted "Unity!" and "Hit, hit Tel Aviv" in an appeal to Hamas militants who have fired at least five rockets at the Israeli coastal city since Thursday.

"Whoever speaks about the division after today is a criminal," top Hamas leader Mahmud al-Ramahi told the crowd.

Fatah and Hamas - its power limited to Gaza and its leadership refusing to recognise Israel - have been locked in a bitter dispute for years, and little has emerged from an interim truce the two sides struck in April last year.

Palestinian Prime Minister Minister Salam Fayyad - a Fatah member - said in a statement that there was "an urgent need to respond positively" to the idea of a meeting between all Palestinian groups in both Gaza and the West Bank.

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