Fatah and Hamas to open new round of unity talks

January 23, 2007 12:41


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Palestinian factions on Tuesday said they were starting a new round of talks to form a unity government after months of internal bickering that has flared into violence between rivals Hamas and Fatah. The talks come on the heels of a meeting between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah and Hamas' exiled leader, Khaled Mashaal, last weekend in Syria. The meeting ended without agreement. Despite claims of progress, hopes were dim that the new round of talks would lead to an agreement. The sides remain at odds over control of the Interior Ministry, which oversees security forces, and Abbas' demand that the platform of the government include recognition of Israel. Fatah has made joining a unity government conditional on Hamas recognizing former peace agreements, which would implicitly recognize Israel. Despite the sanctions, Hamas has rejected international calls to renounce violence and recognize the Jewish state. Tensions between Hamas and Fatah have erupted into violence. Some 35 people have died in factional fighting since the previous round of negotiations broke down in late November.

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