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Israel annexation plans: Fatah and Hamas show united front in rare joint conference

The conference with Fatah's Jibril al-Rajoub and Hamas's Saleh al-Arouri was the first major joint media appearance for the two Palestinian parties since 2017
Saleh al-Arouri, left, of the Hamas movement and Jibril al-Rajoub of Fatah during a video conference (Screengrab)

A joint video conference between the two biggest Palestinian political factions of Fatah and Hamas held on Thursday to show Palestinian unity against Israel's annexation plan of parts of the occupied West Bank marked a rare public event between the two rival groups.

Jibril al-Rajoub, the head of Fatah’s central committee, and Saleh al-Arouri, the deputy head of Hamas's politburo, spoke during a conference broadcast on Palestine TV.

Arouri described the conference as a “gesture towards unity”.

“If the [Israeli] occupation was able to pass the annexation of part of the West Bank, that means a series of annexations will continue,” he said.

Rajoub confirmed that Fatah, the ruling party of the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority (PA), was working alongside Hamas, the de facto ruling party in the besieged Gaza Strip, to tackle US President Donald Trump's so-called "deal of the century”, widely viewed by Palestinians as having paved the way for Israel to push forward its annexation plans that were initially scheduled to be unveiled on Wednesday. 

“We are 100 percent in harmony with Hamas to face the challenge that threatens our cause,” Rajoub said. “Today, we are coming out with one voice and one flag, and we are working on building a strategic vision to face challenges and lead the public with the participation of all factions.”

Following Hamas's victory in 2006 legislative elections, Fatah and Hamas confronted each other in a brief armed conflict in which the PA was effectively booted out of power in the Gaza Strip. 

Since then, the PA and Hamas have failed to resolve their acrimonious power struggle, with numerous attempts at forming a unity government falling flat, effectively leaving Gaza under the control of a Hamas-led administration separate from the PA operating in the occupied West Bank.

The last time Fatah and Hamas came together in a major media conference was in October 2017, when they signed a unity deal in Cairo which they said would end the more than decade-long rift between the two parties.

The deal was not implemented and relations between the two movements once again turned sour

Arouri said that both Fatah and Hamas need to freeze all disagreements in order to reach a strategic deal to “address the danger which the Palestinian cause faces”.

“We and Fatah were never in disagreement to face the occupation and its plans… We have to take a true and honest stand to face this project and make it fail,” Arouri said.