Egypt to coordinate renewed Hamas-Fatah talks: Abbas

July 27th, 2008 - 11:02 pm ICT by IANS  

Cairo, July 27 (DPA) Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Sunday that Egypt would immediately begin coordinating talks between his Fatah party and the rival Hamas movement, for the first time since they severed all contacts a year ago following the Islamic movement’s Gaza takeover. Abbas condemned a fresh outbreak of violence in Gaza over the week-end and called for an independent inquiry into a mysterious Friday bomb blast that had sparked the new tensions between the two Palestinian groups.

“What happened in Gaza is extremely regretful and painful to us and to our people. We don’t accept it. Neither do we accept accusations and claims made directly by Hamas blaming Fatah and its members of the Gaza blasts,” Abbas said after talks with Egyptian leaders in Cairo.

“We call for a committee made up of independent Palestinians to investigate the matter and come to conclusions on the perpetrators of the attack. We will accept the outcome of the inquiry,” Abbas said.

Violence in Gaza erupted after five members of Hamas’ armed wing and a five-year-old girl were killed by a bomb near western Gaza City’s beachside late Friday, and the radical Islamic movement ruling Gaza responded Saturday by arresting and raiding dozens of Fatah members and offices in the Strip.

Abas also said that Egypt agreed to initiate efforts aiming at achieving reconciliation among Palestinian factions and to invite all of them to a national dialogue.

“An Arab initiative adopted at the Damascus Arab summit is the basis of inter-Palestinian dialogue. There are no pre-conditions for dialogue,” Abbas said.

The Palestinian leader had over the past months demanded Hamas reverse its Gaza “coup”, as well as an apology, before he would be willing to renew talks with the Islamist movement. The initiative adopted by the Arab League at its late March summit also called for a reversal of Hamas’ Gaza take-over, but not necessarily as a pre-condition for talks.

Reconciliation efforts will be in tandem with Egypt’s mediation between Israel and Hamas on the release of Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier held captive in Gaza, in exchange for Palestinian prisoners, Abbas said.

Commenting on a round of Palestinian-Israeli talks to be held in Washington this week, Abbas said as long as there was hope, negotiations should continue despite key obstacles, such as Israel’s ongoing construction in West Bank settlements blocs.

The Hamas crackdown on Fatah Saturday was the biggest since it forcibly took sole control of the salient a year ago.

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