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Sunday March 27, 2011 12:47 PM (EST+7)
Abbas meets Hamas leaders amidst Israeli warnings

Read more: Mahmoud Abbas, Hamas, Fateh, Fatah, reconciliation, unity, elections, Hamas-Fateh conflict, Fateh-Hamas conflict

RAMALLAH, March 27 (JMCC) - A meeting between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and several representatives of the Islamist movement Hamas Saturday was met with Israeli recriminations. 

“Abbas has to choose whether he wants peace with Israel, or peace with Hamas,” an Israeli official told the Jerusalem Post. “He can’t have both. If he chooses peace with Hamas it will bury the peace process.”

Peace talks between Israel and the PLO headed by Abbas have been stalled since last year over Israel's continued settlement construction. Palestinians have refused to continue bilateral talks as long as Israel continues to build in territory it occupied in 1967.

The breakdown in talks had led Palestinians to seek other means of fulfilling their goal of achieving a Palestinian state, and officials say that they plan to appeal for United Nations support by September this year.

Abbas said in the meeting with West Bank Hamas leaders that he hopes his Fateh faction and Hamas can reconcile before that deadline, according to Ynet.

Abbas met with Abdel Aziz Dweik, Nasser Eddin al-Shaer, Mohammed Abu Tir, Samir Abu Eisheh, Ayman Daraghmeh, Abdel Rahman Zeidan and Wasfi Qabaha, most of them former ministers in the short-lived Hamas government after 2006 elections.

The summit, a rarity in five years of infighting between Fateh and Hamas, was called after Abbas said that he was ready to go to the Gaza Strip to help end the rift.

Abbas is calling for a national unity government of independent figures in the lead-up to general elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Dweik called the meeting candid and positive. Hamas members said they raised several concerns, including the issue of its members in the West Bank who have been dismissed from official positions, prisoners held in Palestinian Authority jails and media incitement.

Hamas has controlled the Gaza Strip since 2007 when its forces overran Fateh-dominated Palestinian Authority security installations, limiting Abbas' authority to the West Bank.







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