Russia to Palestinians: Preserve national unity

Russia wants Palestinians to avoid sliding into further political turmoil and work to preserve national unity and seek compromise in the standoff between the president and the government, the Foreign Ministry said Saturday. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced Saturday that he would call new presidential and parliament elections at the earliest possible date, in a bold challenge to ruling Hamas militants that risked sparking a full-scale civil war. The Hamas government, which has drawn crushing international sanctions over its anti-Israel stand, denounced Abbas' decision as a "coup" against the Palestinian people, who voted the Islamic group into power just 11 months ago. Hamas leaders called on Abbas to resign. "Moscow is convinced that preserving the national unity is a foundation for fulfilling the rightful aspirations of the Palestinian people, above all the creation of an independent and viable state through talks with Israel," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.