West Bank Hamas rally tests new Palestinian unity pact

Hamas: "The gap between the two sides remains wide, and their agendas remain different."

By REUTERS
April 30, 2014 16:44
2 minute read.
hamas

NEGOTIATION COLLAPSE The Israeli-Palestinian negotiating process collapsed after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah signed a unity pact in Gaza City with its militant rival Hamas on April 23 (above).. (photo credit: SUHAIB SALEM / REUTERS)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

RAMALLAH - Over a thousand supporters of the Islamist group Hamas marched through the streets of a West Bank stronghold of its rival Fatah party on Wednesday, testing a surprise Palestinian unity pact the two signed last week.

The rally in Ramallah followed a funeral in the city's main mosque for Hamas terrorists killed by Israeli security forces in 1998. Their bodies were released from Israeli custody this week.



Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


Wednesday's funeral was one of the largest gatherings by Hamas in the West Bank since the two parties came to blows in 2007, when the Hamas Islamists seized Gaza. Mutual suspicion between the two groups, and arrests, became commonplace thereafter.



"We've been under pressure and under surveillance for a long time. I hope this is the beginning of something new," said Muhammad, a mourner whose young son bounced in his arms waving Hamas's trademark green flag.



"We just want to live as one people. Peace talks with Israel have failed for decades, and I think we must maintain our option of armed resistance. But I support finding a way forward together," he added, wary of giving his full name.



Israel suspended U.S.-backed peace talks it was having with Fatah chief and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the wake of his deal with Hamas, which is sworn to Israel's destruction. At the United Nations on Tuesday, Israeli and Palestinian envoys traded blame for the talks' collapse.



Hamas and Fatah agreed to form a unity government of independents within five weeks and hold a national election after at least six months, but the rapprochement looked tenuous given the persistence of deep political differences.





While Abbas has promised the new government will back his policy of seeking to revive peace talks to achieve a Palestinian state in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem alongside Israel, Hamas says it will never recognise the Jewish state.



"I'm guardedly optimistic," Aziz Dweik, the Hamas speaker of the long-defunct Palestinian parliament, said at the funeral. "But the gap between the two sides remains wide, and their agendas remain different."



Hamas has long accused Fatah of having a hand in the deaths of the two brothers, Adel and Imad Awadullah, buried on Wednesday - something Fatah denies.



Relatives say Imad was in a Fatah-run Palestinian jail while his brother was in hiding from Israeli forces. They say he was allowed to escape in order to lead them to Adel, and the two were killed in a shootout with Israeli forces.



Uniformed and plainclothes Palestinian forces kept a close eye on the marchers, some of them wearing masks, as chants rang out of "Revenge!" and "Strike Tel Aviv!"

Fatah supporters passed out leaflets among the crowd, cautioning, "Let there not be any excuse to divide members of the united Palestinian family. We live now in an atmosphere of reconciliation."

Related Content

August 17, 2018
Yazidi leader killed in air strike by Turkey four years after genocide

By SETH J. FRANTZMAN