Skip to main content
Home Asia Europe U.S. Business Tech Science Entertainment Sport Travel Weather Specials Video I-Reports
WORLD header

Fatah militants storm rival-held government buildings

Story Highlights

• NEW: Abbas decree clears way for appointment of all-Fatah Cabinet, AP reports
• NEW: Israeli PM says all-Fatah government can be a peace partner, AP says
• NEW: Quartet nations express concern for humanitarian conditions in Gaza
Fatah militants seize Hamas-controlled buildings in the West Bank
Adjust font size:
Decrease fontDecrease font
Enlarge fontEnlarge font

RAMALLAH, West Bank (CNN) -- Palestinian gunmen raided parliament buildings controlled by rivals in the West Bank on Saturday as factional fighting continued to spread.

The show of force by the armed wing of Fatah followed rival Hamas' takeover in Gaza.

Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades stormed into the Palestinian Parliament in the West Bank city of Ramallah and other Hamas-controlled government buildings in Nablus on Saturday, witnesses said.

Video footage in Nablus showed the Fatah militants loyal to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas planting their flag on the roof of one building as others fired rifles into the air.

Abbas early Sunday nullified a law requiring the Hamas-majority Palestinian parliament to approve Cabinet appointments, The Associated Press reported.

The move came a day after Hamas -- which won parliamentary elections under Prime Minister Ismail Haniya last year -- overtook the presidential compound in Gaza City and consolidated its control over Gaza after defeating Fatah's forces. (Watch how Hamas gunmen took over Abbas' office Video)

Abbas dissolved the coalition government and said he would create an interim government consisting of members of his own Fatah party.

Abbas on Friday appointed Salam Fayyad as prime minister of the interim government, an Abbas adviser said. Fayyad, well-regarded in the international banking world, was finance minister in the short-lived unity government.

Fatah has the support of the United States and Israel. Both nations list Hamas as a terrorist organization.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Saturday said the elimination of Hamas from what Israel considers the legitimate Palestinian government presents a new chance for peacemaking, The Associated Press reported.

"We have a new opportunity ... that we haven't had in a long time," Olmert said before departing for a meeting in Washington with President Bush, AP reported.

"The situation has changed, which enables diplomatic progress. ... We intend to act to take advantage of this situation," he said, according to AP. "A government that is not Hamas is a partner."

The Middle East Quartet expressed concern Saturday about the humanitarian needs of Palestinian residents and aid workers caught up in the fighting in Gaza. See photos of the violence in Gaza

Representatives of the Quartet members -- the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia -- issued a statement one day after holding a conference call to discuss the violence.

The Quartet urgently called for an end to the violence and for the "cooperation of all parties to ensure appropriate security and access conditions" for humanitarian aid. (Watch as calm returns to Gaza and fears rise in West Bank Video)

The Quartet said it supported Abbas' decisions to dissolve the Cabinet and declare an emergency.

"The Quartet recognized the necessity and legitimacy of these decisions, taken under Palestinian law, and welcomed President Abbas' stated intention to consult the Palestinian people at the appropriate time," the statement read. "The Quartet noted its continuing support for other legitimate Palestinian institutions."

Those involved in the telephone call were Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, High Representative for European Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and European Commissioner for External Relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner.

"The Quartet supports the efforts of responsible regional states to help calm the situation, and will continue to promote a negotiated, comprehensive, just and lasting Middle East peace in line with relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions," the group said.

The Arab League met Friday in Cairo on ways to help resolve the crisis. In a statement, the group called "on all parties to stop the fighting on Palestinian lands" and returning Gaza's situation to where it was before the violence began.

In Syria, Hamas' exiled chief Khaled Mashaal called for a "national dialogue along with Arab help."

The Egyptian diplomatic delegation in Gaza shut its offices and departed Friday because of security concerns, sources in Gaza said.

The military wing of Hamas said Friday it is working to secure the release of BBC journalist Alan Johnston, who has been missing since March 12 when he was abducted at gunpoint in Gaza.

Izzedine al-Qassam said it has asked that Johnston be released and that his captors have promised the release "in the next few hours." (Full story)

Fifteen journalists, including Johnston, have been abducted in Gaza since 2004, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. All the others were released unharmed, usually within days. Johnston has been in captivity longer than any other journalist abducted in Gaza.

CNN's Nidal Rafa and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Palestinian gunmen linked to the Fatah faction line the roof of a municipality building Saturday in the West Bank city of Nablus.

CNN TV How To Get CNN Partner Hotels Contact Us Ad Info About Us Preferences
© 2007 Cable News Network.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us. Site Map.
SERVICES » E-mail RSSRSS Feed PodcastsRadio News Icon CNN Mobile CNN Pipeline
Offsite Icon External sites open in new window; not endorsed by
Pipeline Icon Pay service with live and archived video. Learn more