Abbas says ready for talks with Hamas over ending split

09:49, March 17, 2011      

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Just one day after the popular rallies organized by Palestinian youths, who called for an end to a division that began in June 2007, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday said he is willing to head to Gaza immediately for dialogue with Hamas movement.

Ismail Haneya, the deposed premier of Hamas government, which rules the Gaza Strip, when on Tuesday he called on Abbas and his Fatah party to meet immediately in Gaza or anywhere else and hold a comprehensive dialogue that will help end the ongoing internal division.

Palestinian observers said that Abbas and Haneya calls came apparently in response to the popular rallies and demonstrations that dominated the Palestinian territories on Tuesday, where tens of thousands of Palestinians called for an end to the internal division between the two feuding parties.

They expected that Abbas would head to Gaza within a few days, and most probably after his visit to Russia scheduled on Monday. Abbas has not been in Gaza since Hamas seized control of the coastal enclave by force in June 2007, routed his security forces and cracked down on his Fatah party.

"I'm willing to go to Gaza to end the division, form a government of independent national figures that prepares for holding presidential and legislative elections as well as elections for the Palestinian National Council," Abbas told a meeting of the Palestinian Central Council (PCC).

Abbas said that he is postponing the formation of a new government in the West Bank headed by Prime Minister Salam Fayyad "to give an opportunity for forming a national unity coalition," adding "If unity is achieved, elections are to be held within six months."

"Elections will be held six months after forming the national unity government or sooner under the sponsorship of the United Nations, the Arab League, the Islamic Conference Organization, the non-governmental organizations, independent figures and international right activists.

Abbas, 75-year-old, chairman of Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Fatah chief said that the national unity is a top priority, adding "I want to handover the authority and as I said before, I don't want to run again in any upcoming elections, and I really made up my mind."

Nabil Abu Rdeineh, spokesman of the Palestinian Presidency announced that Abbas' initiative "aims at holding a meeting with the premier of the deposed government of Hamas Ismail Haneya and all other factions in Gaza to reach an agreement on forming a neutral national unity government.

"The mission of the new national unity government will be to preparing for the presidential, legislative and PNC elections within six month under Arab and international sponsorship," said the spokesman, where Abbas called on Haneya to receive him at Erez Crossing within four days.

Meanwhile, Islamic Hamas movement on Wednesday welcomed Abbas' declaration that he would go to the Gaza Strip to work on ending political split. The movement said in a leaflet emailed to reporters that the movement called on the government to prepare for president Abbas visit to Gaza.

"Hamas welcomes Mr. Abbas' response to Mr. Ismail Haneya's call to visit Gaza," said Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman, referring to the leader of Hamas' government that controls Gaza. "Hamas will follow preparations for this visit," Abu Zuhri told Xinhua.

In order to show seriousness, the deposed government of Hamas, headed by Haneya began to hold contacts and consultations with advisors, leaders and ministers over the mechanism of receiving President Mahmoud Abbas and ending the internal division.

Fatah party's member of the central committee Azzam al-Ahmad, who is in charge of the dialogue with Hamas movement, told Xinhua that a Fatah delegation will go to Gaza with President Abbas to discuss with the movement the declaration of a reconciliation agreement.

"This visit must be based on achieving a reconciliation agreement, end the split and not to be only for maneuver, postponement and wasting more time," said al-Ahmad, adding "this initiative is another new test for Hamas seriousness that it really wants to end the division."

Leaders of Palestinian factions as well as members of the PLO executive committee welcomed the initiatives of Haneya and Abbas. They considered the initiative "a brave step that shows that the Palestinian leaders are interested in achieving reconciliation and ending the current division."

Source: Xinhua
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