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Abbas blames Hamas for failing to avert violence

©

Latest update : 2008-12-28

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Sunday of the Gaza violence that he had previously advised Hamas not to end the truce, a move he believes "could have avoided these massacres."

Reuters - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas blamed the rival Hamas group on Sunday for triggering Israel's deadly raids on Gaza by not extending a six-month truce with the Jewish state.

 

Abbas, whose Fatah movement has been at loggerheads with the Islamist group, said maintaining the truce could have helped the Palestinians avoid the Israeli raids, which have killed more than 270 people in Gaza in the past two days.

 

"We talked to them (Hamas) and we told them 'please, we ask you, do not end the truce. Let the truce continue and not stop' so that we could have avoided what happened," he said in Cairo.

 

The two groups have been at odds since Hamas won parliamentary elections in 2006 and then drove Fatah forces out of Gaza in June 2007.

 

Israel said its raids were in response to cross-border rocket attacks by Hamas. Each side blamed the other for violating and failing to extend the Egyptian-brokered truce, which expired on Dec. 19.

 

Abbas, speaking after talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, said the priority was to end the bloodshed and restore
the truce.

 

Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit of Egypt, which has mediated between Hamas and Israel and between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, said the Israeli ambassador was summoned to the Foreign Ministry on Sunday for the second day in a row to receive a complaint about Israeli military operations.

 

"We object to this and we demand a stop and that the Israeli army does not carry out a new invasion," he said.

 

The Egyptian minister said a ceasefire would be the aim of a meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo on Sunday.

 

Several Arab leaders have proposed an Arab summit to respond to the attacks on Gaza but Aboul Gheit suggested a meeting could be some way off.

 

"Priority is the Arab measures at the level of foreign ministers ... then we can look at a later phase, but we don't imagine moving without proper preparation for such a summit. First we have to look at the ceasefire measures," he said.

 

Date created : 2008-12-28

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