(photo credit: reuters)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announced on Wednesday that he was ready to go to the Gaza Strip to hold talks with Hamas leaders on ways of ending the dispute between the two sides.
RELATED:Palestinians demand: 'We want to end the division'Fayyad says he's determined to end Fatah-Hamas split
Hamas responded by welcoming Abbas’s initiative, and said it would study the arrangements needed to make the visit take place.
Abbas called on Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh to arrange the visit and receive him on the Palestinian side of the Erez border crossing into the Gaza Strip.
Abbas’s announcement was made during a speech he delivered at a meeting of the Fatah Central Council in Ramallah.
His remarks came one day after Hanieyh urged him to hold an urgent meeting to discuss ways of achieving reconciliation between Hamas and Abbas’s Fatah faction.
The two rival parties are facing immense pressure to end their dispute and form a unity government.
On Tuesday, tens of thousands of Palestinians demonstrated in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as part of a Facebook campaign calling on the two sides to end division in the Palestinian arena.
Abbas said in his speech that he wasn’t planning to go to the Gaza Strip for dialogue with Hamas, but to reach agreement on the establishment of a government whose top priority would be to hold presidential and parliamentary elections.
He warned Hamas against “missing this historic opportunity,” adding that there would be no solution [with Israel], no Palestinian state and no elections unless the Palestinian “homeland was reunited.”
The Palestinians also won’t return to the negotiating table with Israel unless there is a complete cessation of settlement construction, Abbas stressed. “The Palestinians won’t continue to negotiate forever,” he cautioned.
Abbas pointed out that the Palestinians had negotiated with two Israeli governments in the past few years, “but did not reach any agreement to end occupation.”
The Palestinians want a state on the 1967 borders, a just solution to the problem of the refugees on the basis of the Arab peace initiative, east Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state – and there will be no concession on this, Abbas said.