GAZA: The Hamas-run government in the Gaza Strip said yesterday that it had relaxed a ban on Palestinian newspapers published outside the enclave as a gesture of reconciliation to rival group Fatah after their unity deal last month.
The groups have banned newspapers from each other’s territories since Hamas won a 2006 poll and the two parties fought a bloody civil war the following year in which Hamas seized the Gaza Strip and Fatah remained in power in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. The return to Gaza of Al Quds, the biggest-selling Palestinian daily in the West Bank, was greeted enthusiastically by Gaza residents who snapped up copies from newspaper sellers shouting out its name.
“We are taking steps to end the era of the ugly division and to advance reconciliation,” Ehab Al Ghsain, a Hamas government spokesman, said about allowing Al Quds back into the Gaza Strip.
“We urge the Palestinian Authority to take similar steps in the West Bank,” he said.
There was no immediate comment from the Palestinian Authority. Hamas wants Fatah to lift a West Bank ban on the Gaza Strip’s two pro-Hamas dailies and a newspaper affiliated with the Islamic Jihad group.
Hamas said it would wait for Abbas’s administration to reciprocate before allowing back two other major newspapers it had prohibited. Al Quds is an independent daily with articles critical of a wide spectrum of political parties. It is printed in East Jerusalem.