Gaza rallies in Sana’a and Aden draw thousands [Archives:2008/1135/Front Page]

March 6 2008

SANA'A, March 5 ) A crowd of 5,000 people attended a support rally for Gaza sponsored by the president's ruling General People's Congress party. The rally, held in Sana'a's Al-Tahrir square, coincided with a similarly staged “Anger March” in Aden.

The Yemeni government and its citizens, as well as Palestinian nationals living in Yemen, protested the recent Israeli incursions into Gaza that killed over 100 people.

Many of the Sana'a attendees at the Al-Tahrir rally were public school students, since the event was co-sponsored by Yemen's education syndicates.

There was a similar support event for Gaza residents sponsored by the Palestinian Embassy and other Palestinian organizations on Monday night in Sana'a that drew over 350 people.

Recently, President Ali Abdullah Saleh offered to host both Hamas and Fatah, the rival groups ruling the Palestinian territories, in Yemen as long as both parties agreed to negotiate without conditions. The president proposed this idea during Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' visit to Yemen last month.

Hamas currently controls Gaza, while Fatah controls the West Bank. The two parties have been in near-constant discord since June of 2007, when Hamas took control of Gaza.

Mahmoud Abbas, who leads the Fatah party, has agreed to President Saleh's offer, though Hamas has yet to respond to the proposal.

“I would like to inform them that our agreement for this initiative is completely honest,” said Ahmed Faouzi Al-Diek, the Palestinian ambassador to Yemen, on Monday evening. “We are giving you our hand and if Hamas declares their agreement for this initiative, President Abbas is willing to send a delegation to negotiate with Hamas on Yemen's turf in Sana'a.

“We are waiting for Hamas to okay this initiative,” said Mosa Jaber of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO). “This is the only way to support our people against the occupation. Yemen politically supports Palestinian rights and goals and they help our people with money and everything they can,” he added.

Hamas spokespeople denied that the organization has stalled on the Yemeni initiative to open dialogue with Fatah and indicated that they will send a delegation to Yemen now that the president returned from his trip abroad.

A press release issued by the General Union of Palestinian Students' Yemen Branch put it best: “The world will not be stable and peaceful until the end of Palestinian suffering.”