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Hamas, Islamic Jihad debate joining forces

Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the main Palestinian Islamist movements, are holding talks about merging their two factions, sources on both sides said today.



Gaza City: Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the main
Palestinian Islamist movements, are holding talks about
merging their two factions, sources on both sides said today.

During a meeting with top officials from Islamic Jihad,
Gaza`s Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniya called for "opening
a serious dialogue to achieve the merger of the two
movements," his office said in a statement.

Islamic Jihad confirmed that talks to merge the two
factions were already under way.

"An in-depth dialogue has actually begun, both internally
and externally, with the aim of uniting," spokesman Daud
Shihab said, referring to the group`s leadership which,
like Hamas, is based in both Gaza and Damascus.

All previous attempts to merge the two Islamist movements
had ended in failure, Shihab said.

He indicated that the current talks were taking place "at
the highest level" among the leaders of both factions in Gaza
and Damascus as well as among Islamist prisoners being held in
Israeli jails.

Uniting the two movements would be "in the interests of
both the Palestinian cause and the future of the Palestinian
liberation movement, particularly in light of the Arab
Spring," he said.

It was the first time Hamas and Jihad have spoken
publicly about merging.

The two factions have long held opposing views on
government, with Jihad boycotting the last Palestinian
elections in 2006 that were won by Hamas.(AFP)

PTI

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