03:25 GMT28 September 2020
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    The rival Palestinian political entities, Fatah a secular, social democratic party, and Hamas an Islamic nationalist, radically anti-Zionist force, have been at odds since the mid-2000s, with their conflict leading to a de-facto split of the Palestinian Authority between the Fatah-controlled West Bank, and Hamas-controlled Gaza, in 2007.

    Recent events, including the United Arab Emirates’ decision to normalize relations with Israel, have prompted Hamas and Fatah to agree to join forces to confront Tel Aviv, Hamas deputy political head Saleh al-Arouri has announced.

    Speaking to Lebanon’s Al-Mayadeen TV on Monday night, al-Arouri said that Palestinians had been ‘stabbed in the back’ three times in 2020, with the first time being the Trump administration’s announcement of a lopsided Israeli-Palestinian peace proposal in January, the second being Israel’s announcement of plans to annex wide swathes of the West Bank and the Jordan Valley this spring, and the third being Abu Dhabi’s move to normalize ties with Tel Aviv in August.

    According to al-Arouri, the unprecedented “dangers strangling the Palestinian cause” mean that Palestinians can no longer accept a split between their nation’s major political forces. Therefore, he said, Hamas has made contact with Fatah and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to discuss joining forces against Israel.

    The parties have reportedly agreed to three initiatives, to be implemented by joint committee, including the organization of resistance against Israeli in the West Bank, reforming the Palestine Liberation Organization (the multi-party organization in which Fatah is the largest faction), and an effort to put an end to the dispute between Hamas and Fatah sparked by the 2006 elections and the 2007 Hamas takeover of Gaza.
    Hamas militants. (File)
    © REUTERS / Ibraheem Abu Mustafa
    Hamas militants. (File)

    Al-Arouri also warned Tel Aviv of the dangers of renewed fighting between Hamas and Israel following the Qatar-facilitated ceasefire deal agreed late last month.

    “If there is an open confrontation, the entire Israeli home front will be involved,” he said. “We’re at the stage where we will not tolerate the pressure in Gaza and we are ready for an open fight.”

    Hamas political bureau chief Ismail Haniyeh and Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah met in Beirut on Sunday to discuss bilateral ties and Arab countries’ readiness to normalized ties with Israel in the wake of the UAE-Israeli deal. The UAE became just the third Arab country after Egypt and Jordan to establish normal diplomatic relations with Israel since its founding in 1948.

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised Abu Dhabi’s decision, saying it showed that Arab countries will not be “held hostage by the Palestinians” and are motivated economically and otherwise to make peace with Israel. Palestinian officials, Iran, Turkey and others described it as a 'stab in the back' against Palestinian interests.

    Hamas and Fatah held a joint rally in the West Bank village of Turmusaya outside Ramallah last month, with the rival Palestinian factions’ rare show of unity coming in the wake of the UAE’s decision.

    Palestinians wave their national flag and Fatah party flags as they take part in a rally marking the 12th anniversary of the death of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat (portrait background) in the West Bank city of Ramallah on November 10, 2016
    © AFP 2020 / ABBAS MOMANI
    Palestinians wave their national flag and Fatah party flags as they take part in a rally marking the 12th anniversary of the death of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat (portrait background) in the West Bank city of Ramallah on November 10, 2016

    The conflict between Fatah and Hamas led to a de-facto split of the Palestinian National Authority after Hamas’s takeover of Gaza in 2007. The infighting, occasionally described as a ‘Palestinian Civil War’, led to the deaths of between 350-600 people, including nearly 100 civilians, and left Palestinians divided amid Israeli military operations in Gaza, and settler activities in the West Bank.

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