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A Palestinian girl seen with a flag during protests on …

Gaza, Ramallah – Asharq Al-Awsat

Thousands of Palestinians Protest in Gaza, Ramallah Demanding End of Division

Sunday, 13 January, 2019 – 10:00

Thousands of Palestinians staged protests in Gaza and Ramallah on Saturday to demand an end to the 11-year Palestinian internal division and a halt to growing internal tension.

The demonstrations were held simultaneously in Gaza and Ramallah and were called by the Palestinian Democratic Rally, which was recently launched by a coalition of five left-wing factions, including the Popular and Democratic Fronts for the Liberation of Palestine.

Participants in Gaza demonstration raised Palestinian flags and banners condemning the division, calling for reconciliation and restoration of national unity.

Leaders of the five factions carried a giant banner reading „Yes to form a government of national unity prepared for presidential and legislative elections and a national council.“

“The Palestinian division has catastrophic consequences, and its negative projections have affected people’s lives and internal relations,” said Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine politburo member Jamil Mezher during the Gaza protest.

He pointed to the need to rearrange the internal Palestinian situation along national lines, which requires urgent action to end chaos in order to fortify the internal front against any attempts to threaten civil peace.

Mezher also stressed the need to stop media campaigns and incitement between the Fatah and Hamas movements.

He said both parties should use the language of reason and dialogue to manage of internal differences and halt escalatory measures that widen the divide.

He called for the suspension of political arrests in the West Bank and Gaza and the immediate release of any political detainees.

Demonstrators in Ramallah called on Fatah and Hamas to immediately end the division and unite to confront Israeli agendas, which include Judaizing Jerusalem and confiscating lands, and lift the siege on Gaza Strip.

Last week, five main factions of the PLO announced the formation of the Palestinian Democratic Rally within the Organization, including the Popular and Democratic Front, the People’s Party, the Palestinian Democratic Union (Fida) and the Palestinian Initiative Movement.

They said it is “a coalition formula operating within the framework of the PLO and at the popular level in order to build a growing popular movement that contributes to the activation of popular resistance against the occupation.”

„It seeks to work for the democratic renewal of the institutions of the Organization through free elections according to the system of full proportional representation with the participation of all Palestinian forces,“ the Palestinian Democratic Rally said in a statement.

The group seeks „to escalate political and popular pressure to end the division“ and to commit itself to calling for general elections to be held within six months under a government of national unity that provides for free and fair conditions in the West Bank and Gaza.

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Sunday, 13 January, 2019 – 10:00 –

Iraq President Intervenes in Hikma, Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq Spat

Iraqi President Barham Salih. (Reuters)

Baghdad – Hamza Mustafa

Iraqi President Barham Salih has succeeded in easing tensions between the National Wisdom Movement (Hikma) led by Ammar al-Hakim and Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq (AAH) headed by Sheikh Qais al-Khazali, an official source in the presidency told Asharq Al-Awsat Sunday.

The dispute had erupted earlier this week after a report broadcast by the Hikma-linked Al Forat satellite television network on the involvement of an AAH member in the assassination of Imad Jabar, the owner of the Laymounah restaurant, in the city of Sadr, east of Baghdad.

The source said that the two sides were receptive to Salih’s initiative that called for stopping media campaigns against each other. He also proposed postponing rallies that the Hikma movement had planned to stage.

Salih took the initiative in order to avoid dragging political powers in side disputes at a time when the government lineup was still incomplete, months after parliamentary elections were held.

Hikma official Baleegh Abou Kalal confirmed that the demonstrations were postponed at the president’s request.

AAH MP Naim al-Aboudi told Asharq Al-Awsat that the movement has formed a committee to follow up on the implementation of Salih’s initiative and uncover the truth behind the Jabar’s assassination.

Another committee was formed to address the situation at the Baiji refinery.

Hikma media outlets had accused the AAH of robbing equipment at the facility.

Aboudi explained that the committee would be tasked with communicating with the ministries of defense and interior to reveal the truth in the case. He said that the equipment has been handed over to the oil ministry.

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