Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is willing to give up hundreds of millions of dollars of US aid if that is what is necessary to forge a reconciliation deal with Hamas, the Associated Press quoted his adviser as saying on Monday.

Azzam Ahmed stated that "the Palestinians need American money, but if they use it as a way of pressuring us, we are ready to relinquish that aid."

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According to official Palestinian Authority news agency WAFA, Abbas also requested that the Palestinian Liberation Organization's (PLO) Executive Committee convene the body's Constitution Committee as quickly as possible, either in Amman or Cairo, in order to begin drafting amendments to the organization's charter.

The comm
ittee first convened in 2005 following the Cairo Declaration which outlined the makeup of the committee's members as well as its purpose and goals. The declaration also stated that the committee would be comprised of secretary generals from all Palestinian factions, and that it would be the sole representative of the Palestinian people.

Since 2005, the committee has not successfully drafted amendments to the PLO charter, and has not convened since Hamas was elected to power in 2006.

Over the weekend, Abbas met with a Hamas delegation from the West Bank in Ramallah to discuss ways of ending the dispute between his Fatah faction and the Islamist movement. It was the first such meeting in more than a year.

It followed Abbas’s recent offer to visit the Gaza Strip for talks with Hamas leaders on achieving Palestinian unity.

The offer has divided Hamas leaders. While some have welcomed it, others have announced that Abbas was unwelcome in the Gaza Strip.

Abbas briefed the Hamas officials on his initiative, saying it was aimed at discussing the formation of a new government that consists of independent figures to prepare for presidential and legislative elections, and rebuild the Gaza Strip.

Hours after the meeting, a senior government official said that Israel will stop dealing with the Palestinian Authority if it brings Hamas into the government.

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

Khaled Abu Toameh and Herb Keinon contributed to this report.


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