Abbas voices support for public protests for unity

14:43, March 16, 2011      

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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday said he supports the public protests in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, which call for an end to the Palestinian schism.

"The people stick to their unity and principles and we are with our people and youths to reach freedom, independence and an end to the split" between Islamic Hamas movement and Abbas' Fatah party, Abbas said at a news conference with the visiting Cypriot President Dimitris Christofias in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

Abbas said he seeks to "boost national unity" by holding presidential and parliamentary elections, which he said are the aspirations of the Palestinian people.

Hamas, which won the parliamentary elections in 2006, refuses any new elections before it reaches agreement with Fatah on several outstanding issues.

The split widened in 2007, when Hamas routed pro-Abbas forces and took over the Gaza Strip. Abbas said he is eager to see the lift of Israeli closure, which was imposed on Gaza after Hamas seized it.

Thousands of Palestinians took to the streets in Gaza and the West Bank to put pressure on the two parties to unite. The rallies, mobilized by independent youths through social networking websites, are the biggest public move calling for unity.

Abbas said the peace process in the Middle East is suffering "a dangerous impasse," blaming Israel on continuing "illegal settlement activities on the Palestinian land that it has occupied in 1967."

The president said the world should recognize Palestine as an independent state and the state should join the United Nations as a full member.

The U.S.-brokered peace talks stopped in September 2010, when Israel resumed building settlements in the West Bank after a 10- month partial moratorium.

Source: Xinhua
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