The militant Palestinian movement Hamas will allow its rival faction Fatah to celebrate the anniversary of its foundation with a rally in Gaza today.

For the first time since it ousted Fatah from Gaza in 2007, Hamas is expected to welcome thousands of supporters of the more moderate faction, which is led by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, for the anniversary celebration.

Abbas, who is based in the West Bank and has not returned to Gaza since Hamas assumed control of the strip, is expected to address the rally by telephone.

The rally comes just three weeks after Fatah leaders in Ramallah allowed Hamas to hold a rare rally in Nablus, a city in the northern West Bank.

Hamas political leader Khaled Meshaal, who lives in exile, visited Gaza last month to celebrate the group's 25<sup>th anniversary and try to boost reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah.

Relations between the two factions collapsed in June 2007 when Abbas ordered the dissolution of the Hamas-led unity government amid internecine fighting in Gaza.

As a consequence, Hamas set up a rival government in Gaza before forcing Abbas out. However the two sides are currently trying to exploit strong political momentum to revive unity talks.

Since Egypt, ruled by the Muslim Brotherhood which has close ties to Hamas, brokered a ceasefire with Israel in November, scores of foreign diplomats have visited Gaza for the first time since the militants took power in 2007.

Abbas is also enjoying a surge in popularity after Palestine was upgraded to non-member observer state status by the UN General Assembly - a decision for which he had campaigned tirelessly.

The decision by Hamas to allow a Fatah rally in Gaza comes after a survey by daily Israel Hayom, which revealed that the majority of Israelis support the creation of a separate Palestinian state.

Almost 54 percent of 800 Israelis surveyed said they favoured the idea of an independent Palestinian state, whereas 38 percent rejected it.