TEL AVIV – Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ ruling Fatah faction and its rival Hamas agreed to put aside their differences and “unite” to thwart Israeli-American “plots” against the Palestinians, senior officials from both sides said Thursday.
“We will support each other, because we’re in the same boat in confronting annexation,” Hamas deputy chief Salah al-Arouri said by video conference from Beirut.
Senior Fatah official Jibril Rajoub said the two factions would “battle together” to achieve Palestinian statehood.
“We will lead our battle together under the flag of Palestine to achieve an independent and sovereign Palestinian state on the 1967 borders and solving the issue of the refugees on the basis of international resolutions.”
“The reaction of our people to the [annexation plan] shows that there is a national consensus to reject the American-Israeli conspiracy,” Rajoub said.
“We are discussing unifying our common struggle on the ground,” he said. “We want to open a new page with Hamas. Today we want to emerge with one voice and under one flag and work towards building a strategic vision to confront the challenges with regards to leading the Palestinian street with the participation of all factions.”
Arouri repeated the Hamas statement made earlier this week that applying Israeli law to parts of the West Bank would be a “declaration of war.”
Arouri vowed Hamas would turn to “all forms of struggle and resistance against the annexation plan” and of Fatah, he said, “We must freeze our differences for the sake of a strategic agreement to fight against the occupation.”
The joint press briefing marked the first in several years between senior Fatah and Hamas officials. Hamas overthrew Fatah in the Gaza Strip in 2007 and the two parties have been bitter rivals since.
Multiple attempts at building unity governments between the two have been made over the years but all have failed.
In another rare gesture of solidarity, Hamas invited Fatah officials in the Gaza Strip to attend a major demonstration against Israel’s plan to apply sovereignty to parts of the West Bank.
Abbas on Wednesday evening praised Rajoub’s efforts in mobilizing the Palestinian public against annexation. However, Palestinians have failed to show up to anti-annexation rallies organized in the West Bank.
Both Arouri and Rajoub have received terror convictions, and Rajoub has served time in Israeli jails. The U.S. State Department offered $5 million in 2018 for information leading to Arouri’s location. Arouri is a key figure in Hamas-Iran ties. He also ran several terror cells in the West Bank that were responsible for scores of terror attacks against Israel.