World Bulletin / News Desk
The Hamas government in the Gaza Strip freed seven imprisoned members of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah faction on Wednesday, saying it was trying to promote reconciliation with Fatah.
Relatives of the seven released prisoners welcomed them with kisses outside a Gaza jail, where they had been serving terms of up to two years for what Hamas described as security offences. Fatah said they were jailed for political reasons.
Hamas and Fatah both number their jailed members in the dozens and demand their freedom.
Islam Shahwan, spokesman for the Hamas-run Interior Ministry, called the release an effort "to reinforce national reconciliation" - a goal that has proved elusive.
In 2011, Hamas and Fatah leaders committed to an Egyptian-backed unity deal. But it dissipated in disputes over sharing power and devising a common strategy in the long conflict with Israel.
"We hope reconciliation can be achieved soon," one of the freed prisoners, Fatah member Saleh Abdel-Salam, told reporters. "Our enemy is one and we should devote our attention to our Palestinian cause."
Hamas urged Fatah to reciprocate for the prisoner release.
"The Hamas movement in the West Bank awaits positive decisions that will enable it to resume its public, social, trade union and political activities," Khaled al-Haj, a Hamas official in the territory, said in a statement.
Jamal Mheisen, a member of the Fatah Central Committee, called in turn for Hamas to implement the unity deal, saying anything short of that did not constitute progress toward ending political divisions.Last Mod: 08 Ocak 2014, 17:41