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Hamas tells Fatah: Let’s fight Israel together
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH
12/04/2012
Mahmoud Zahar calls on Fatah to "stop wasting time and effort" on peace process; Palestinian reconciliation efforts stepped up.
 
Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar on Monday called on Fatah to join his movement in the fight against Israel and to stop wasting time and effort with the peace process.

Zahar’s call came as Hamas and Fatah representatives stepped up their efforts to end their differences and achieve “national reconciliation.”

Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told reporters in Ramallah that his top priority now was to end the rivalry with Hamas, and said he saw no reason why the two sides could not reach an agreement on holding presidential and parliamentary elections.

Speaking at a rally for Hamas supporters in Gaza City, Zahar said, “Our hands are extended to Fatah to join the program of [armed] resistance and the liberation of Palestine.”

Addressing Fatah, he added, “Come and join the program of resistance and stop wasting your time and effort. Let’s join hands and carry the rifle together.”

Zahar said that Fatah members who wish to join the “bandwagon of the triumphant, celebrate with us and become our partners are welcome.”

He claimed that the West was now displaying an understanding of Hamas’s armed resistance strategy.

“They no longer see our people as terrorists and murderers who have no respect for women and children and who only love blood,” Zahar said. “Westerners came to the Gaza Strip and saw that we are among the most civilized people.”

Following last week’s UN General Assembly vote in favor of granting the Palestinians the status of non-member observer state, Hamas and Fatah leaders pledged to work hard to end the split between the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

As a goodwill gesture, the Hamas government has allowed 17 Fatah activists who fled the Gaza Strip to Egypt five years ago to return to their homes.

The activists fled during the fighting that erupted between Fatah and Hamas and resulted in the Islamist movement’s takeover of the Gaza Strip.

The Hamas-run Interior Ministry said that the decision was aimed at paving the way for the creation of a positive atmosphere for achieving reconciliation and ending divisions between the two rival parties.

On Monday, only 12 of the Fatah activists returned to the Gaza Strip.

Nabil Sha’ath, a member of the Fatah Central Committee, expressed optimism regarding the prospects of achieving unity with Hamas. He said that the Palestinian Authority had released a number of Hamas members from its prisons in the West Bank.

The PA has also decided to reopen Hamas institutions in the West Bank that had been closed for security reasons, Sha’ath said.

He said that the PA leadership was prepared for “full partnership” with Hamas in any political move in the future, and added that the two sides would meet in Cairo soon to discuss ending their dispute.

Sha’ath said that Fatah and Hamas leaders have voiced satisfaction over the participation of their followers in joint celebrations and rallies in the West Bank and Gaza Strip over the past two weeks.

PLO Executive Committee member Wasel Abu Yusef said that Fatah and Hamas were now waiting for an invitation from Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi to hold reconciliation talks in Cairo.

The Egyptians, he noted, have been exerting heavy pressure on the two parties to end their differences and form a Palestinian unity government.

Despite the apparent rapprochement between the two parties, Hamas said on Monday that the PA security forces have arrested two of its supporters in the West Bank.

Several other Hamas supporters have also been summoned for interrogation by the PA security forces in the past few days, the terrorist organization said.

A Hamas source said that the PA General Intelligence Service arrested Saleh Amer, who comes from the village of Kufr Qalil near Nablus. In Ramallah, PA security officers arrested Amjad Hussein, a resident of the village of Der Qadees.

Ra’fat Naseef, a senior Hamas official in the Gaza Strip, warned the PA leadership against arresting supporters of the terrorist movement. He said that despite the “positive” talk about reconciliation, the PA security forces were continuing to arrest and summon Hamas supporters.

The PA’s security crackdown is an obstacle on the way to achieving Palestinian unity, Naseef complained.
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