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Middle East

Hamas leader Haniyeh calls for work with Fatah as Gaza celebrates ceasefire

media Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh (2nd L), Islamic Jihad leader Mohammed Al-Hindi (2nd R) and senior Fatah official Nabil Shaath (L) during a rally in Gaza City, 22 November Reuters/Ahmed Zakot

Gazans on Thursday celebrated a ceasefire with Israel. Thousands of Palestinians gathered to hear speeches declaring unity and victory from the Hamas leadership and visiting Fatah delegates.

Supporters of smaller groups, including Islamic Jihad and the secular Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine were also present.

Islamic Jihad leader Muhammad al-Hindi calledfor factions to unite behind pro-resistance groups, indicating a potential divide with Fatah, which favours diplomatic measures.

The chants praised the armed groups that the Palestinians saw as providing their protection during the Gaza crisis, but much of the crowd carried the yellow flags of Fatah as well as the green of Hamas.

Audio report - Hamas leader and Gazan Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh 23/11/2012 - by Ruth Michaelson in Gaza Listen

The demonstration of unity came at a moment of intense groundswell of support for Hamas due to their ability to mediate between armed groups on the ground in Gaza while maintaining international political ties at negotiations in Cairo.

Fatah leader Nabil Shaath told the crowd that Gaza had succeeded in maintaining links to the West Bank, traditionally seen as a Fatah stronghold.

Hamas leader and Gazan Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh told RFI that opinion remains divided on the upcoming bid to upgrade Palestine’s status at the UN that has been pushed by Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas.

Dossier: Gaza 2009

“I don’t know, because I think we have to discuss this point with all Palestinian factions," he said. "The situation here is very complicated and Israel will not change the situation on the ground. We need something in order that we can work together, Hamas and Fatah, resistance and political action, and to make a new strategy and see how we can face the Israeli Occupation.”

Haniyeh was less confident about the chances of the ceasefire holding:

“I cannot say that I am optimistic, I think we will see in a couple of days, if Israel is interested to respect the agreement and to implement the agreement … I’m not sure, but we will see.”

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