A leading member of the Palestinian Hamas movement has called for a "genuine partnership" with the Palestinian Fatah group – its longstanding rival – against the Israeli occupation.
"Let [the two groups] establish a genuine partnership, far from political wrangling, for the liberation of Palestine," leading Hamas member Mahmoud al-Zahar said in a Friday speech in the Gaza Strip during a rally held to mark the 27th anniversary of the group's establishment.
Al-Zahar, however, reiterated Hamas' rejection of recent statements by Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas in which the latter voiced readiness to reach a political settlement with the Israelis.
The envisioned settlement would entail the establishment of a Palestinian state on pre-1967 borders, which account for some 22 percent of historical Palestine, including East Jerusalem.
According to al-Zahar, however, any settlement that excludes West Jerusalem would be "tantamount to abandoning" the disputed city to Israel.
Al-Zahar urged Arab governments to support the Palestinian resistance against Israel's decades-long occupation and to work towards lifting the eight-year blockade of the Gaza Strip and expediting reconstruction of the war-battered enclave following this summer's devastating Israeli offensive.
Hamas and Fatah signed a reconciliation deal in April aimed at ending seven years of division, which had led to the emergence of two rival seats of government, in Gaza and Ramallah respectively.
In 2007, Hamas – after winning Palestinian legislative elections one year earlier – routed pro-Fatah forces and took control of the entire Gaza Strip.
April's reconciliation deal led to the formation of a Palestinian unity government in June.
Both factions, however, continue to accuse one another of trying to derail the reconciliation deal.
Hamas was established in 1987 by Sheikh Ahmed Yassin during the first Intifada, or Palestinian uprising, against the Israeli occupation.
An icon of the Palestinian popular resistance, Yassin was assassinated by Israel in 2004.
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