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‘Time for Reconciliation:’ Rare Fatah Rally in Hamas-Controlled Gaza

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avatar by i24 News

PA President Mahmoud Abbas gestures during a meeting in Ramallah, in the West Bank August 18, 2020. Photo: REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman/Pool

i24News – Thousands in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip staged one of the biggest celebrations in years for the rival Fatah movement of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday.

The demonstrators turned Gaza City’s Al-Katiba square into a sea of yellow as they waved Fatah flags to mark the 58th anniversary of the party’s foundation. Fatah rallies on this scale have been a rarity in Gaza for the past decade and a half.

Fatah and Hamas – the two main Palestinian factions – have been at odds since the 2006 elections, which were won by Hamas but never recognized by either Fatah or the international community as legitimate. The following year, Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip beginning years of division, with Fatah administering Palestinian-run areas of the West Bank.

In an address to the crowd, Fatah’s Gaza chief, Ahmed Helles, called for reconciliation between the rival factions following the recent swearing-in of the most right-wing government in Israel’s history.

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The new coalition led by veteran leader Benjamin Netanyahu “will go as other racist governments have gone and our people will remain,” Helles said. “The time has come to achieve national reconciliation.”

Monther Al-Hayek, a Fatah spokesman, urged the importance of achieving “national unity to confront Netanyahu’s extremist government.”

Algerian President Abdelmajid Tebboune launched an initiative at the end of 2021 to reconcile Fatah and Hamas, and in July managed to bring together Abbas and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in Algiers, a meeting described as “historic.”

But this first public meeting in more than five years did not lead to a broader reconciliation. In October, the two movements signed a reconciliation agreement in Algiers – which Abbas was not present for – but the agreement has not been implemented.

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