Palestinians face their hour of division

GAZA Tue Sep 6, 2011 10:15am EDT

GAZA (Reuters) - "What time is it?" is a tricky question these days in the Palestinian Territories.

In a case of rare agreement, the Palestinian Authority that governs in the West Bank and its rival, the Islamist Hamas movement that rules the Gaza Strip, went off summer time on August 1, falling back an hour to ease the daily fast, ending at sunset, of Muslims during the holy month of Ramadan.

The West Bank returned to summer time on August 30, when the holiday ended. Gaza, which is separated from the West Bank by Israeli territory, did not.

Compounding the confusion, banks and universities in Gaza affiliated with the Palestinian Authority are keeping West Bank hours.

"When my wife calls me, she asks whether I want to have lunch Gaza-time or West Bank-time," a Gaza banker said. "It is ridiculous."

A solution to the time problem might have to await a so-far elusive unity deal between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. They fought a brief civil war in 2007 that left Gaza under Hamas control.

(Reporting by Nidal Almughrabi, Editing by Jeffrey Heller and Mark Heinrich)

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