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News, March 2008


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Editorial Note: The following news reports are summaries from original sources. They may also include corrections of Arabic names and political terminology. Comments are in parentheses.

Palestinians rally calling for national reconciliation, Abbas to adopt Sana'a declaration, opening talks with Hamas

President Abbas will adopt Sana'a declaration, opening talks with Hamas

Date: 26 / 03 / 2008  Time:  09:19
Bethlehem Ma'an

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced, in a meeting on Tuesday with senior leaders of his Fatah movement, that he will adopt a Yemeni-brokered agreement to resume direct talks with the rival Hamas movement, sources with knowledge of the meeting said.

Present at Tuesday's meeting was Fatah's speaker in the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), Azzam Al-Ahmad, who represented Fatah at last week's talks in the Yemeni capital, Sana'a. The source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that Abbas' aide, Nabil Amr, would hold a press conference on Wednesday in Ramallah about the Sana'a declaration.

The leaked announcement ends days of disagreement within Fatah about the Yemeni-backed agreement. High-ranking Fatah leaders, including presidential aide Nimir Hammad and former Prime Minister Ahmad Qurei accused Al-Ahmad of signing the accord without consulting the Ramallah-based leadership on the final version.

Palestinians rally in Gaza and Hebron calling for national reconciliation

Date: 26 / 03 / 2008  Time:  17:54
Hebron Gaza Ma'an

Tens of thousands of Palestinians staged rallies in Gaza City and the West Bank city of Hebron on Wednesday calling for national reconciliation between bitter political rivals Fatah and Hamas.

The rally in Gaza was organized by the Palestinian Popular Campaign for National Reconciliation. Coordinator Abdul Mun'im Tahrawi said the rally had three goals. First was to demonstrate that the Palestinian people can bring about change in the internal political rivalry. Second was to send a message to all political factions that the Palestinian people have chosen reconciliation. Third was to urge the participants in this week's Arab summit in Damascus that the Palestinian issue must be included in the agenda.

Meanwhile, crowds of people in Hebron participated in a march from Al-Quds Open University to the city's Al-Manara Square. Several prominent Palestinian leaders representing different factions and Islamic forces took part in the rally. Palestinian flags were raised and participants shouted slogans calling for national unity.

The Hebron rally was organized by the Palestinian Centre for Democracy and Conflict Resolution.

On Sunday senior Fatah official and former Palestinian Prime Minister Azzam al-Ahmed, and senior Hamas representative Moussa Abu Marzouk signed an initiative in the Yemeni capital Sana'a, calling for the creation of a Palestinian national unity government and the rebuilding of security forces loyal to the government rather than the rival political factions.

Hamas and Fatah ruled together in a National Unity government from March 2007 until Hamas seized power in the Gaza Strip in June 2007, resulting in days of bloody fighting between the two sides.

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