Fatah agrees to celebrate Hamas anniversary in Gaza


(JTA) — Fatah reportedly has agreed to participate in Hamas’ 25th anniversary celebrations in the Gaza Strip, a sign of rapprochement between the rival Palestinian factions.

Meanwhile, Khaled Meshal, Hamas’ leader in exile, arrived in the Gaza Strip on Friday for the first time in his life, to attend the celebrations.

The Jerusalem Post reported that the festivities will take place on Saturday.

“There is no reason why we should not participate with our Hamas brothers in the celebrations,” Yehya Rabah, a senior Fatah official in the Gaza Strip is quoted as saying. “This is a step forward toward achieving reconciliation.”

The Post’s Palestinian affairs correspondent, Khaled Abu Toameh, also quoted Fatah spokesman Fayez Abu Aitah as confirming Fatah’s position.

Hamas’ anniversary, Abu Aitah said, comes amid a “positive and good atmosphere following the victories of our people.”

Crowds packed Gaza City’s streets to watch Meshal, who wept and said his arrival in Gaza was his "third birth," referring to his actual birth and then his survival of an Israeli assassination attempt in 1997.

Meshal, 56, was born in the West Bank and fled with his family after the 1967 Six Day War, when Israel captured the territory.

Meshal’s wife and daughters arrived in Gaza together with 15 Hamas officials on Dec. 6. 

Hamas and Fatah are in on-again, off-again unity talks.

Hamas boycotted the Palestinian municipal elections in October. 

Hamas, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, staged a violent coup d’état in Gaza in 2007. 

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