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Welcome to Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Center,, for Wednesday, March 16, 2011.

Mahmoud Abbas has stated, on Wednesday, that he is willing to travel to the Gaza Strip to meet with Ismail Haniyya of Hamas, in an attempt to restart the stalled reconciliation attempts between the two parties.

Abbas also stated, speaking in Ramallah, that he will not run for re-election and that he still intends to hold elections within the next 6 months.

The speech was made in response to the popular demonstrations, attended by thousands, at various locations in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, calling for unity of all Palestinian peoples, and an end to the political rivalry between Hamas and Fatah.

Following these protests, Hamas leader, Ismael Hanniyeh invited Abbas to come to Gaza to re-knew unity efforts, a call that Abbas has apparently heeded, although Hamas stated that they have not been in direct contact with Abbas’ office.

Haniyya said that his government in Gaza supports the youth movements’ call for national unity based on reconciliation and transparency, and commented that that several Palestinian leaders in the West Bank lack an independent political stance, and that those leaders fear reconciliation and political partnership, as such a partnership jeopardizes their personal interests and agendas.

Hamas spokesperson in the Gaza Strip, Dr. Sami Abu Zuhri, slammed the Ma’an News Agency for, what he called, “publishing false reports that proved it is biased towards the Fatah movement”. Ma’an responded to the allegations, reiterating attacks were carried out by Hamas security forces against Gaza protesters.

Abu Zuhri added that the actions of Ma’an reflect its nature as “a tool in the hands of Fatah movement by publishing false reports that contradict reports published local and international media agencies’.

Responding to the statements of Abu Zuhri and the Government Media Office in the Gaza Strip, Ma’an said that it is concerned about this response, adding that “a picture is better than a thousand words”, referring to pictures published by the al-Jazeera news showing the security forces attacking nonviolent protesters with batons .

That sums up our news for today, thank you for joining us from occupied Bethlehem. You have been listening to Palestine Today, from International Middle East Media Center. For more updates, please visit our website at This report has been brought to you by Husam Qassis and Circarre Parrhesia.