Hundreds protest in Gaza against peace talks

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Hundreds of people in the Gaza Strip protested on Friday against Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, in marches organized by Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Marchers set off from mosques across the coastal strip before converging on a square in the middle of Gaza City, with protesters brandishing signs saying “No to negotiations” and slamming West Bank-based Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas’s “political failure.”

Hamas’s religious affairs minister Ismail Ridwan addressed the group’s archrival Abbas in a speech during the protests.

“All the Palestinian factions say you don’t have the right to relinquish any piece of our land, or to give up Palestinian rights,” he said.

Hamas says Abbas’s decision to return to the negotiating table with Israel is not representative of the will of the Palestinian people.

Israeli and Palestinian negotiators held another round of US-brokered talks on Tuesday in Jerusalem.

“Returning to talks is a blow to the jihad and to the sacrifices of our people, the blood of our martyrs and to our prisoners behind bars in Israel,” Ridwan said.

Israeli plans to build another 2,129 settlement units in east Jerusalem and the West Bank, announced days before the latest talks started, angered Palestinian officials, who have said the plans threatened to bring a premature and “disastrous” end to negotiations.

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