- Title: WEST BANK: Fatah and Hamas demonstrate unity in the West Bank.
- Date: 8th January 2007
- Summary: PALESTINIAN RESIDENTS OF NABLUS AWAIT THE RELEASE OF HAMAS MAYOR MAHMOUD HAMDALI
- Embargoed: 23rd January 2007 12:00
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVAB06YE3OKZO8TWVG07U0FLRKWA
- Story Text: PLO (Palestine Liberation Organisation) executive council meets in Ramallah, while Hamas deputy mayor gets released by Fatah militants. Also in the West Bank Fatah and Hamas leaders stage a joint march calling for national unity. Amid growing unrest, the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), led by President Mahmoud Abbas, condemned on Monday (January 8) the internal fighting between Hamas and Fatah in the West Bank and Gaza and demanded security services to maintain rule of law, a PLO official said.
In the latest violence, unidentified gunmen opened fire on the offices and cars of former Palestinian Finance Minister Salam Fayyad in the West Bank city if Ramallah, an incident Fayyad attributed to rising "security chaos".
Fayyad, who has close ties to Washington, said he was not there at the time of the incident, which came amid rising tensions between Abbas's Fatah faction and Hamas Islamists heading the Palestinian government.
Fayyad also attended the PLO meeting.
A senior Palestinian security source said the shooting may have been accidentally caused by one of Fayyad's own bodyguards.
Fayyad, a respected economist and a former World Bank and International Monetary Fund official, served as finance minister when Fatah was in control of the Palestinian Authority, but he is not a member of the once-dominant faction.
He has been a frequent target of criticism from Hamas, which took control of the Palestinian Authority in March after beating Fatah in parliamentary elections.
Hamas has accused Fayyad of contributing to the new government's financial woes, a charge he denies. The United States and other Western powers cut financial aid to the Hamas-led government in March to pressure the group to renounce violence, recognise Israel and abide by interim peace deals.
Hamas deputy mayor of Nablus Mahmoud Hamdali was released by his captors after being held by Fatah militants since Saturday (January 6).
Residents of Nablus carried Hamdali on their shoulders as he was released and held a news conference at the Municipality in Nablus.
"God willing, we will never allow anybody to break this unity. We will not allow anybody to break this unity that is present in the city of Nablus," Adli Yaeesh, the mayor of Nablus told reporters at the news conference.
Hamdali thanked all those who worked on his release and told reporters that he hopes this will mark a turning point in Fatah-Hamas relationship.
"Whoever does not thank the people, does not thank God. So I think them warmly (people who secured my release). And I hope and pray to God that this crisis that I have been through will become our turning point towards national unity," Mahmoud Hamdali told reporters.
In a rare show of unity, dozens of Fatah and Hamas officials and supporters marched the streets of the West Bank city of Hebron on Monday (January 8), calling on Palestinians to halt violence and join together to promote their national struggle.
Also in Nablus Palestinian members of AlAqsa Martyr Brigades loyal to Abbas's Fatah party held a press conference in which the warned against incitement against the Palestinian president.
"To debate the law is a guaranteed right but to push the Palestinians towards a civil war will be met with a popular resistance that is strong and a street that is firm from the Alaqsa Martyrs Brigades and the Awda Brigades (Fatah group) the decision of the president Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) to dissolve the executive force (Hamas force) is a lawful decision which we will protect with our blood," a Fatah militant told reporters.
Elsewhere in the West Bank city of Hebron, a Hamas leader and deputy mayor returned home after he was held in captivity by militants.
The ruling Hamas and Fatah have been locked in a violent power struggle that some Palestinians fear could spark civil war. The internal unrest has worsened since Palestinian President Mahmod Abbas called last month for early elections to break a political deadlock with Hamas.
Since then dozens of Palestinians have been killed in clashes in Gaza Strip.
Also in Hebron, a small group of Hamas and Fatah lawmakers marched together through the streets of the West Bank city in a rare show of unity, calling for an end to factional fighting.
Hamas and Fatah have been locked in an increasingly violent power struggle that some Palestinians fear could spark civil war. The internal unrest has worsened since Abbas called last month for early elections.
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