Hundreds of people demonstrated Thursday in Manara Square in Ramallah, calling for Palestinian national unity.The demonstration was organized by the Palestinian NGO network and inspired by the success of recent demonstrations in Egypt and Tunisia, explicitly called for unity between the West Bank and Gaza. There have been a number of demonstrations in the West Bank in recent weeks, many of which have allegedly been violently suppressed by the Palestinian Authority (PA).
In a separate but related development, President Mahmoud Abbas has called for elections to be held simultaneously in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The PA announced last week that parliamentary and presidential elections would occur before September.
Hamas has declared that elections cannot be held before reconciliation takes place. Previously, President Abbas had intimated that elections could be held in the West Bank alone. Fatah official Nabil Shaath stated that he would be willing to travel to Gaza to negotiate national reconciliation with the Hamas leadership there. He said that Fatah has agreed to the amendments proposed by Hamas to a previous reconciliation agreement from 2007.