Middle East

Palestinians protest for Hamas-Fatah unity

Unity protest in Gaza City 15 4 2011
Image caption The biggest demonstration was in Gaza City

Thousands of people are demonstrating across the Palestinian territories, calling for political unity between their rival governments.

Hamas controls Gaza, while Fatah is in power in the West Bank.

The protesters - who organised the event via Facebook - say they have been inspired by uprisings elsewhere in the Middle East.

They say they want an end to the bitter political deadlock, which has divided Palestinians for more than five years.

All previous efforts to end the split, including Egyptian and Saudi Arabian mediation, have failed.

Thousands of protesters, waving Palestinian flags and chanting for unity, have packed into Manar Square in the centre of Ramallah in the West Bank, reports the BBC's Jon Donnison from the scene.

He says Palestinians have seen the impact of people power elsewhere and they want a piece of the action.

They want an end to the deadlock that had gripped Palestinian politics since the bitter and sometimes violent split that occurred between Fatah and Hamas.

That left Palestinians politically and geographically divided. They see the divisions as a distraction from their main grievance - Israel's continuing occupation, our correspondent says.

Members of both Fatah and Hamas have joined the protest, although some Palestinians feel they are trying to hijack the event, he adds.