RAMALLAH, Palestine 

Palestinian group Fatah has welcomed a call by rival Hamas movement to close ranks to counter an Israeli plan to annex parts of the occupied West Bank.

“Fatah’s hands are always extended for unity,” Fatah Secretary-General Jibril Rajoub said in a statement on Sunday.

“Unity is a main pillar of the Palestinian national struggle, and it is impossible to resist the [Israeli] occupation, the [US] deal of the century and annexation without it,” he said.

On Saturday, Hamas called for strengthening inter-Palestinian unity and adopting a national plan “to undermine the conspiracies of annexation and deal of the century”.

The Israeli government is set to hold a Cabinet vote on July 1 on the annexation of all settlement blocs and the Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank.

Palestinian officials say Israel will annex 30-40% of the West Bank, including all of East Jerusalem, under US plan known as “deal of the century”.

Palestinian officials threatened to abolish bilateral agreements with Israel if it goes ahead with the annexation, which would further undermine the two-state solution.

The West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is seen as occupied territory under international law, thus making all Jewish settlements there – as well as the planned annexation – illegal.

Hamas and Fatah have remained at odds since the former seized the Gaza Strip from the latter in mid-2007 after several days of street fighting.

In 2017, the two factions signed a reconciliation agreement in Cairo in hopes of ending years of animosity and division. Terms of the agreement, however, have never been implemented amid deep-seated differences between the two movements.

*Bassel Barakat contributed to this report from Ankara

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