Hamas Announces Initiative to Regain National Unity With Fatah

Although Hamas and Fatah have historically been at odds, the Islamist party's leadership believe that a united front is needed to keep the unrest that has swept the region at bay.

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Hamas representatives said Saturday that the Islamist party is preparing a comprehensive initiative to end more than three years of internal Palestinian division.

The militant Islamist movement, which won parliamentary elections in January 2006, seized control of the Gaza Strip in June the following year in the aftermath of clashes between Hamas and Fatah, the secular Palestinian party led by President Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas is based in the West Bank.

Palestinian flag attached to balloons during a soccer match on the first day of Gaza's World Cup on May 2, 2010.Credit: AP

"We are preparing a comprehensive national initiative that aims at rearranging the Palestinian internal situation to regain the national unity," said Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza.

Zurhi said the initiative "doesn't have any obstacles that would give anyone the excuse to reject it," adding that once finalized the initiative would be presented to Palestinian factions in the near future.

After the Hamas takeover of Gaza in 2007, Abbas deposed the Hamas-led national unity government and appointed a new government under Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

Hamas, however, retained control of the Gaza Strip enclave, while Abbas and his Fatah party were left to administer the West Bank.

Palestinian, Arab and international efforts to end the rivalry between the two sides have failed thus far. Fatah and Hamas initially agreed to a reconciliation pact drafted by Egypt in October 2009, but Hamas later rejected the deal.

"The current circumstances that surround us urge all of us to regain the national unity," said Abu Zuhri, referring to the political turmoil that has swept across the Arab world.

Meanwhile, Palestinian youths have created a Facebook group called "The people want to end the split between Gaza and the West Bank".

The group has called on Palestinians to participate in peaceful mass demonstrations on March 15 against the internal split. According to the group's page, they are looking for real political reform and change similar to that in Tunisia and Egypt, where revolutions were successful in bringing about the ouster of despotic leadership.

This initiative comes as a surprise in light of Hamas's usual policy to prevent any activity in the Gaza Strip that calls for ending the Palestinian split.

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