February 25, 2010 - 1:00am

Islamic Hamas movement, which controls Gaza, told mediators that a delegation from President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party will not be allowed into Gaza, a member of the delegation said Thursday.

Amal Hamad, who was supposed to be in Gaza along with six Gaza native colleagues, said Hamas had told mediators that Fatah must stop arresting Hamas supporters in the West Bank before letting any leading member of the movement into Gaza.

"Nobody has the right to prevent any Palestinian citizen from visiting Gaza," Hamad told Xinhua.

Abbas has given a green light for the delegation to return to Gaza where his forces used to hold sway until Hamas routed them and seized control of the enclave in 2007.

Earlier this month, Hamas allowed Nabil Shaath, a member of Fatah's Central Committee, to visit Gaza and held talks with him. Deposed Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haneya also met with Shaath.

Ismail Al-Ashqar, a Hamas lawmaker, said that Hamas freed 20 Fatah prisoners recently in Gaza as a goodwill gesture to defuse tension with Fatah. However, he said "it is nonsense to welcome Fatah delegation while Hamas symbols are being tortured in the West Bank."


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