Abbas meets Hamas officials in West Bank on unity

13:06, March 27, 2011      

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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday said internal political division between the Palestinian territories makes it difficult to make peace with Israel.

"There would be no peace achieving the aspirations of our people without ending the split," Abbas said during a rare meeting with Hamas officials, the rival of his Fatah party, in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

The split widened in June 2007, when the Hamas overran pro- Abbas forces, ousting Fatah party and taking over the Gaza Strip. Since then, Abbas' rule has been confined to the West Bank.

Abbas discussed with the Hamas officials his recent vision to end the split, which includes visiting Gaza to form a technocratic government preparing for elections within six months, according to Wafa, the official news agency.

Abbas also urged the Hamas to restore calm in Gaza, following a week of violence and military escalation with Israel, in which six Palestinian civilians and four militants were killed.

Aziz Al-Dewaik, a Hamas leader attending the meeting, described it "positive and deep." He promised to reveal steps being taken to achieve unity within the coming few days.

Al-Dewaik, the head of the Palestinian parliament that has been disabled since 2007, said that Abbas' visit to Gaza "would be a practical implementation to end the split."

On March 15, Ismail Haneya, the head of the Hamas government, invited Abbas for dialogue in Gaza. Abbas, who unexpectedly accepted the invitation, said he can go to Gaza only to declare the formation of the unity government that would prepare for elections.

Haneya and Abbas were responding to public pressure for reconciliation.

However, the Fatah sees the Hamas not serious in inviting Abbas to visit Gaza, noting that it had prevented a delegation representing Abbas from entering Gaza to prepare for the visit.

Source: Xinhua
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