JERICHO (Ma'an) -- President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday attended a mass wedding of more than 200 couples in the city of Jericho.
Arab Idol star Muhammad Assaf performed at the ceremony together with singers Murad Sweiti and Ibrahim Sbeihat, who were accompanied by the Awtar Band.
The wedding expenses were funded by the presidential office to help young couples who are struggling financially.
"This is a national celebration by all standards. It is a national delight by all standards. May be it is not the greatest delight we wanted, but it is a step on the road to the greatest delight which we wish and look forward to, the establishment of an independent Palestinian state whose capital is the holy Jerusalem," Abbas said in a speech to inaugurate the wedding.
One of the brides, Randa Itmah, delivered a speech on behalf of the wedded couples in which she thanked the president for his "noble deed."
The mass wedding cost over $1 million, The Associated Press reported, which included $4,000 in start-up money for each couple.
Abbas blamed the rival Hamas movement for preventing a similar mass wedding ceremony from taking place in the Gaza Strip.
"They insisted on preventing our sons and daughters from holding their wedding with us tonight as a symbol of national unity which Hamas does not want. They cited security pretexts."
Dozens of mass weddings have been held in the Gaza Strip over the past years.
Traditional weddings are extremely costly and many couples are forced to delay getting married in order to save money for the ceremony.