Palestinian groups including Hamas and Fatah held a joint press conference on Saturday to mark the end of the sit-down protest outside the Gaza City offices of the International Red Cross. The protest was held to show solidarity with Palestinian prisoners held by Israel, often without trial.
Hamas political bureau member Dr. Khalil Al-Hayyah stood next to Fatah leader Salah Abu Khitlah during the press conference, alongside leaders from other factions. Dr. Al-Hayyah stressed the importance of ending the divisions between the factions and giving priority to the core issues affecting the Palestinians, at the top of which are the prisoners.
"National unity is a popular and national demand; and there is no way to tackle national issues without national unity," he said. Referring to the commonly-held belief that American influence is impeding Palestinian unity, Dr. Al-Hayyah added, "There is a US veto on national reconciliation, and we are required to ignore this veto to achieve unity on the ground."
Dr. Al-Hayyah also expressed his appreciation of holding a "Palestinians Prisoners Day", "because prisoners have united the Palestinian people, and they will continue to unite the Palestinian people behind them."
Fatah's Salah Abu Khitlah said that the issue of the prisoners has united the people around them by means of a national reconciliation deal, which he believes should be adopted "to restore unity to the Palestinian political system".
"Palestinians being held in Israeli jails play a pioneering role with their sacrifice," he added, "and we must have unity if we are to ease their suffering."
Source: Quds Press