Abbas calls on factions to recognize Israel

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he hoped talks between Palestinian factions to begin Sunday would resolve critical disagreements and would make his plan to call a referendum recognizing Israel's right to exist unnecessary. Abbas brushed off questions about his referendum proposal, saying that the groups should be working to reach an agreement to prevent further economic hardship. Interior Minister Said Siyam, of Hamas, said that the Palestinians just had an election in January and did not need another vote. "A plan of this sort at this time is premature. The dialogue must take its course," he said.