April 27, 2011 - 12:00am

Hamas forces dispersed dozens of people who gathered in a Gaza City square to celebrate the progress made on the national reconciliation issue, witnesses and demonstrators said Wednesday.

The rally was organized late Wednesday following the news that Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party and the Islamic Hamas movement reached an initial agreement on ending split and restoring unity in Cairo.

Several vehicles carrying Hamas detectives broke into the Unknown Soldier Park in the city and forced the joyful youths to leave, saying that the gathering was not licensed by Hamas authorities.

Emad Abu Rahma, an official from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, said the gathering was unplanned and aimed at supporting the Egyptian efforts that succeeded in bridging the gap between the two factions.

Earlier Wednesday, spokesman for Abbas Nabil Abu Rdineh rejected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's call on the Palestinian leadership to choose between peace with Israel and peace with Hamas, saying that Netanyahu must choose between peace and the building of Jewish settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, in reference to the construction which caused U.S.- brokered peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians to collapse last year.

Abu Rdineh said the formation of a unity government to prepare for elections "is an internal affair," noting that Hamas will not have any responsibility on the determination of the peace process with Israel, because this issue is exclusive to Abbas and the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Hamas has been controlling Gaza since it routed pro-Abbas forces in 2007.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017