PA chairman meets with EU's Solana in effort to restore truce with Israel.
By JERUSALEM POST STAFF
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday he is working with the Palestinian factions to stop their "absurd" rocket attacks on Israel, working for a truce in the Gaza Strip that could be extended to the West Bank.
Abbas also criticized the Israeli reprisal raids. Abbas arrived in Gaza Monday to try to restore a truce with Israel. He met Thursday with the European Union foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, of his efforts.
Abbas said he told the Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and the factions "to stop the rockets, which I am used to calling the absurd rockets."
Abbas said, "We don't need them. They must stop so we can reach a mutual truce with Israel in Gaza as well as in West Bank." He also said the Israeli airstrikes do not help in stopping the rocket attacks.
Solana said he was in Gaza for what he called "a solidarity" visit with the Palestinians. However, he appealed to the Palestinians to stop launching rockets.
"The rockets in Israel and the reaction from Israel, it has to stop. But for that (to happen), you the Palestinians have to start stopping the rockets that lead nowhere."
Israel has been attacking Hamas targets for more than a week in retaliation for repeated rocket attacks from Gaza on Israeli border towns. Solana left minutes before an Israeli airstrike at a Hamas center in Gaza City.
Abbas said the factions are consulting after their late night meeting with him Wednesday and he expects them to come back to him with an answer by Friday on a truce that starts first in Gaza. He will then talk with the Israelis, he said.
"I explained to them the importance of this truce and the need to implement it. It should start in Gaza and end in the West Bank," Abbas told reporters.
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