Middle East
Palestinians rally for unity
Protesters take to the streets of West Bank city of Ramallah, saying time has come for Fatah and Hamas to come together.
Last Modified: 17 Feb 2011 19:32 GMT

Some demonstrators said they were more interested in Palestinian unity than elections [Reuters]

Thousands of Palestinians have rallied in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank calling for unity between the Hamas and Fatah factions.

One of the protesters in Thursday's demonstration told Reuters Television that the time had come for Palestinians to be one, undivided people.

Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, has rejected a call by Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority (PA), to hold elections in the territories by September.

Hamas, which is at loggerheads with the Fatah, won the last parliamentary elections in 2006 before it seized control of the strip the following year. 

"I am here in solidarity with the Palestinian people, and to see an end to the division. Because there is one nation, and one people," said Amira Sliman.

"The Palestinian people should not separate or divide, we are all one - the time has come for us to be one people."

Another demonstrator, Murad Jadallah, voiced discontent with the PA.

"We are not looking for elections, we want Palestinian national unity. The authority [the PA] we have now is a result of the Oslo agreement.," Jadallah said.

"We as a Palestinian people demand the toppling of the Oslo agreements."

Flag burned

The Gaza Strip is home to 1.5 million Palestinians while the West Bank, controlled by Fatah, accommodates 2.5 million Palestinians.

The election promise was issued on February 12 by the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) in an apparent bid to head off any wave of popular protest fanned by the uprisings elsewhere in the Middle East.

Demonstrators also chanted against a looming US veto on a possible UN Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

"This veto no longer means much for us; we insist to remain in our homeland; we insist to remain strong and we insist that this nation, God-willing, will remain with Jerusalem as its capital," demonstrator Imad El Imleh told Reuters Television as protesters burned the US flag.

Last month, Arab nations submitted a draft resolution to the UN Security Council condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank, but a vote is not expected any time soon because of the likely US veto, diplomats said.

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