Palestinians hold pro-Abbas rally in occupied West Bank

RAMALLAH, Palestine (AA) – Supporters of Palestine’s Fatah movement on Monday demonstrated in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, accusing rival Palestinian faction Hamas of “disputing the legitimacy” of President Mahmoud Abbas.

Held in the West Bank city of Ramallah, hundreds of Fatah supporters raised images of Abbas and shouted slogans in support of the president.

“We choose you!” demonstrators shouted. “President Abbas is our legitimate leader!”

Addressing the crowds, leading Fatah member Mahmoud al-Aloul said: “Fatah is continuing its project of national liberation and the establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.”

In a veiled reference to the Gaza-based Hamas movement, al-Aloul said: “To those in Gaza who would drag the Palestinian people into secondary conflicts, we say: Our compass is Jerusalem.”

He added: “Our enemy is the U.S., its pro-Israel policies and the Israeli occupation that continues to Judaize Jerusalem.”

Al-Aloul went on to accuse Hamas of arresting “dozens” of Fatah members in the blockaded Gaza Strip.

Fatah organized two additional demonstrations on Monday — in the West Bank cities of Nablus and Qalqiliya — in support of Abbas.

On Sunday, several protests were staged in Gaza City, at which participants demanded Abbas’s resignation, accusing the Palestinian president of “contributing to the [Israeli] blockade of the Gaza Strip”.

The West Bank and the Gaza Strip have remained politically and administratively divided since 2007, when Hamas wrested control of Gaza from Fatah following several days of street fighting.

Hamas’s capture of Gaza in 2007 ended a short-lived unity government set up after Hamas swept 2006 Palestinian legislative polls.

In late 2017, the rival factions signed a reconciliation agreement in Cairo in hopes of ending years of division. The agreement, however, has never been implemented due to longstanding political differences.