At 2058 gmt on 18 January, Ma'an reported that Jibril al-Rujub, a leading figure in Fatah in the West Bank, had made a statement to the Hamas-run Al-Aqsa TV in which he said that "there is a possibility to circumvent the domestic crisis in order to confront the occupation. This must be among the priorities of the Palestinian people." For his part, Ahmad Hillis, a leading figure in Fatah in the Gaza Strip, told the Al-Aqsa TV that "internal Palestinian dialogue is the only way to confront the continuing Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people." He added, "We must remove all obstacles to prepare the hearts for the start of national dialogue."
At 0004 gmt on 19 January, Ma'an reported that "as part of its continuing efforts to heal the rift between Fatah and Hamas, the Al-Sh'ab radio in Gaza, affiliated to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine [PFLP], hosted a talk show in which Dr Isma'il al-Ashqar, a Hamas member of the Palestinian Legisl! ative Council [PLC], and Ahmad Hillis, secretary of the Fatah Movement in the Gaza Strip, participated. They were joined on the phone by Khalidah Jarar, a PFLP member of the PLC from the West Bank, and Khalid al-Batsh, a leading figure in Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip.
Al-Ashqar affirmed the depth of the relationship between the leaders of the two movements, despite the existing differences, while Hillis stressed the importance of the unity of ranks and the need for the two movements to return to dialogue. Hillis said that what gathers the two movements and the Palestinian people in general is more than what divides them. He added that the positive climate began after the Al-Shuja'iyah massacre, when the two sides felt the need to heal the rift between them, especially after most of the Fatah leaders, including President Mahmud Abbas, had sent condolences to Dr Mahmud al-Zahhar on the death of his son. Al-Ashqar called on Fatah to return to dialogue as s! oon as possible and to take advantage of this unity atmosphere. He str essed that there is no victor in the struggle between the two movements and that the sole beneficiary is the occupation and its agents. He renewed the invitation to President Abbas to visit the Gaza Strip.
Al-Batsh welcomed the face-to-face meeting between the two movements, demanding that these meetings be repeated and turned into direct dialogue between the two movements as an introduction to full reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas. For her part, Jarar called on the two movements to seize this opportunity to launch a comprehensive dialogue among all factions, set the Palestinian house in order, and reestablish a Palestinian national unity government comprising all factions.
Source: Ma'an News Agency website, Bethlehem, in Arabic 2058 18 Jan and 0004 gmt 19 Jan 08