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Middle east

Abbas calls on Hamas to form national unity govt

Video by James CREEDON

Latest update : 2009-01-20

Speaking at a two-day Arab summit held in Kuwait, the head of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, called on Hamas to join the Fatah movement in forming a national unity government to organise presidential and legislative elections.

AFP - Palestinian Authority president Mahmud Abbas on Monday called for the formation of a national unity government between his Fatah movement and its Hamas rivals followed by simultaneous presidential and legislative elections.
   
"What is required today ... is to form a (Palestinian) national unity government which will then conduct presidential and legislative elections simultaneously," Abbas said at an Arab economic summit in Kuwait.
   
"What is needed and necessary now is that all Palestinians should meet to reach an agreement," Abbas said.
   
The gulf which split the Palestinians in June 2007 after Hamas routed their Fatah rivals from Gaza in deadly street fighting is seen to have widened due to the 22-day war that the Jewish state waged on the Islamists.
   
Abbas, whose writ since Fatah's ouster has been limited to the West Bank, severed all contacts with Hamas after the Gaza takeover.
   
But an Arab meeting on the Gaza war was held in Qatar last Friday when Hamas for the first time attended a presidential-level gathering as a representative of the Palestinians.
   
For Abbas, the Islamist movement is a hindrance to the kind of negotiated two-state solution with Israel that his Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) has been seeking for more than 15 years.
   
Seen by Hamas, the divisions have split the armed struggle.
   
Hamas warned it would no longer recognise Abbas if he remained in power after his term was due to expire on January 8 and would not allow the holding of new parliamentary polls before they are due in January 2010.
   
Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad countered that the mandate of president Mahmud Abbas continues, contrary to the claims of the Gaza Strip's Hamas rulers.
   
Fatah says electoral legislation stipulates that presidential and legislative elections must be simultaneous.
   
Arab foreign ministers called at a meeting in the Egyptian capital in November for Abbas to remain in office until a Palestinian reconciliation agreement has been reached.
 

Date created : 2009-01-19

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