'A New Phase': Palestinian Factions Present United Front Against Israel's Annexation Plan

Fatah and Hamas give rare joint press conference ■ MK Ayman Odeh: 'reconciliation between the factions is a necessary step in combating annexation'

Jack Khoury
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Palestinian protesters carry the Hamas (bottom) and Fatah (C) flags during a rally on May 6, 2011, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank village of Bilin.
Palestinian protesters carry the Hamas (bottom) and Fatah (C) flags during a rally on May 6, 2011, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank village of Bilin.Credit: AFP PHOTO/ABBAS MOMANI
Jack Khoury

In a rare show of unity between rival Palestinian factions, Fatah and Hamas held a press conference on Thursday, where they presented a joint plan of action to counter Israel’s intents to annex parts of the West Bank.

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Jibril Rajoub, secretary general of the Fatah Central Committee, spoke from Ramallah, while Salah al-Aruri, head of the Hamas political bureau, joined via video call from Beirut.

Reiterating a "unified voice," Rajoub confirmed that the two factions held a "quiet and balanced conversation" and reached a stage where they want to "become a model of unity," a step that "the Palestinian people have been waiting for." The Fatah leader added that "annexation will be the bullet that will kill the two-state solution."

Al-Aruri said the meeting "is an opportunity to start a new phase and formulate a strategy that will serve the Palestinian people," adding that the factions "will use every means at our disposal to implement our will on the ground." Annexation "leaves no chance for progress on the political outline for Palestinian factions," added al-Aruri, who made a comparison between the current political climate and the events that led up to the second Intifada.

Chairman of the Arab-majority Joint List party Ayman Odeh also joined the meeting via video call "to support Palestinian reconciliation." Odeh said "reconciliation between the factions is a necessary step in combating annexation, ending the occupation and achieving a just peace. Continued schism serves only those who wish to continue the occupation and the establishment of apartheid. Anyone who supports the two-state solution should also support reconciliation."

A senior Fatah official told Haaretz that the joint statement, in spite of the disagreements between the two parties, serves as a message of unity to the Palestinian people.

Rajoub said on Wednesday that his faction is preparing to “increase the pressure” against Israel’s plans for the West Bank, both in terms of diplomacy and popular resistance. Speaking in Ramallah, he said it was time for a united front that includes all Palestinian factions, including Islamists.

Meanwhile, only small rallies were held in Ramallah and Jericho on Wednesday, the Israeli government’s self-proclaimed target date to start the annexation process. The Palestinian Authority decided against calling for more protests as long as annexation hasn’t happened, while Gaza-based Hamas called for a violent response in the West Bank.

A senior Palestinian official told Haaretz that despite the fact that the Israeli government hasn’t executed its plan so far doesn’t mean the situation would remain calm. “We know the pressure is only going to increase by all parties,” he said. “Our main effort now would be in the political realm, particularly [working with] European lawmakers.”

There have been ongoing frictions between Hamas and Fatah for several years. It came to a head after a Hamas electoral victory in 2007, which led to the de facto separation of the two territories. 

But as well as contending between themselves, and with Israel, the two largest Palestinian political movements have also faced unrest on the Palestinian street and waning popular support in recent years.

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