|Leaders at the al-Quds day rallies told supporters in Gaza that negotiations with Israel were 'pointless' [AFP]
Hamas and Islamic Jihad supporters have rallied in the Gaza Strip to mark al-Quds day and to condemn the direct talks launched in Washington between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Friday's rally comes a day after armed groups said that they had joined forces to step up attacks against Israel, possibly including suicide bombings.
Al-Quds day is an annual event on the last Friday of Ramadan, expressing solidarity with the Palestinian people and opposing Zionism.
"The negotiations that the Palestinian people have tried for over two decades are pointless negotiations, the Palestinian people never gained anything from them except the loss of their cause and their rights," Ismail Rudwan, a Hamas official, told a large cheering crowd.
"Therefore, we consider that participating in these negotiations is a crime and treason."
Binyamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel, and Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, held talks sponsored by the US administration in Washington on Thursday.
Framework for peace
Netanyahu and Abbas agreed to keep talking and produce a framework for a permanent peace deal.
Sabri Saidam, a member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council in Ramallah, told Al Jazeera that the Fatah central committee supported direct talks, provided they yielded "just and positive results".
"Two decades of negotiations that have yielded no results certainly create some atmosphere of concern, which does not extend to Palestinian factions only, but extends rather to within Palestinian society at large. So don't expect unanimous support for such talks," he said.
"These negotiations cannot go on without the inclusiveness of the Palestinian factions at large. For any peace formula to prevail it has to win the consensus and the comprehensive support of all factions in its entirety."
But Ahmed Yousef, Hamas' deputy foreign minister, told Al Jazeera that the Palestinians were not behind Abbas.
"This is not the right way to hold talks; we know Abbas is in big trouble. He has to be following the dictation from the Americans to come to Washington and unfortunately the Arabs that were backing him [are] being co-opted by the US," he said.
"Abbas is not doing the right thing and that's what most of the Palestinians have said."
Hamas is in control of the Gaza Strip, one of the two territories that are supposed to be part of a future Palestinian state.
It wields virtual veto power over any agreement and has indicated it would not accept a deal reached between Israel and Abbas, who leads the Palestinian Authority government in the West Bank.
Abbas has repeatedly said he will present any peace deal to a national referendum, which would include the people of Gaza.
A vote in favour of any peace agreement would then put heavy pressure on Hamas to accept the will of the Palestinian people.
Hunt for gunman
Meanwhile, the police force of the Palestinian Authority is pursuing a suspect in the killing of four Israeli settlers this week after rounding up alleged accomplices, security sources said on Friday.
The attack was claimed by Hamas' armed wing, and embarrassed Abbas on the eve of the US-hosted peace summit.
Abbas's forces responded by detaining dozens of Hamas members, and security sources said at least four of those held provided information relevant to the shooting and a similar attack on Wednesday that wounded two other Israeli settlers.
Hamas has vowed more violence aimed at upstaging the first face-to-face Palestinian-Israeli negotiations in 20 months.
"We are here to tell the Palestinian negotiators that the choice of negotiations is unacceptable and the Palestinian people with all the resistance factions comes out today to support the choice of resistance and refutes the choice of negotiations, and refused the choice of giving up," Ayman Taha, a Hamas official told Reuters Television.