Hamas-Fatah unity urged against Israel occupation in Palestinian lands

Prominent Palestinian politicians and intellectuals appealed to the Hamas and Fatah factions on Tuesday to heal rifts that have jeopardised the demand for statehood.

Hamas-Fatah unity urged against Israel occupation in Palestinian lands
More than a dozen leading figures, including members of both factions, issued a petition in the West Bank which they hope thousands will sign both there and in the Gaza Strip, demanding an end to the political separation between the two territories.

Hamas took over the Gaza Strip in June 2007 in a brief conflict with Fatah, a secular group loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

The petition expressed the fear that the rift could become permanent, and that the recent Israeli offensive in Gaza would weaken the drive for the creation of a Palestinian state in both territories and the end of Israel's West Bank occupation.

Israel killed more than 1,300 Palestinians, a third of them children in the 22-day military aggression on Gaza and wounded 5,300 Palestinians, and Gaza infrastructure suffered massive damage totaling some 476 million dollars, according to Palestinian medics and officials.

"The aggression on our people in Gaza is an assault on all the Palestinian people, it aims to break the will of all our people, driving it to live in division and capitulating to the liquidation of our national cause," the petition said.

"Political and geographical division is destructive to the Palestinian cause," one of the signatories, Abdel-Rahim Mallouh, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), told reporters in Ramallah.

Hamas and Israel are negotiating through Egyptian mediators on a longer-term truce.

Egypt has invited representatives of all Palestinian factions to meet in Cairo next month to discuss reunification.

The new U.S. Middle East envoy, George Mitchell, is due to hold talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders on Wednesday and Thursday.

West Bank Palestinians took to the streets during Israel's Gaza offensive, both to protest against the fighting and to condemn the factional divisions among the Palestinians.

"Our message is enough," said Islamist figure Nasser Shaer, a former minister in a Hamas-led government. "The division is being reinforced and we fear it will become ... permanent."

Last Mod: 28 Ocak 2009, 16:43
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