Fri, May 26, 2006 - Page 6 News List

Hamas and Fatah ‘need to cooperate’ on a joint platform

AP , RAMALLAH, WEST BANK

Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh told a conference of top Palestinian leaders yesterday that his militant Hamas group and the more moderate Fatah Party need to work out a joint Palestinian political platform.

The statement could open the way for Hamas to implicitly accept international demands that it recognize Israel, as Fatah has done.

“The area of agreement in political vision is very close, but we need to strengthen our national unity,” he said. “We affirm our position to unify our political vision, because it will give us the confidence of our people.”

Haniyeh spoke at the start of a conference of top government officials and the leaders of various Palestinian groups that was meant to relieve internal Palestinian tensions that have repeatedly exploded in violence in recent weeks.

Haniyeh said his hardline group and the more moderate Abbas were making a strong effort to prevent the tensions from skyrocketing out of control.

“We are not going to engage in a Palestinian-Palestinian conflict,” he said.

Abbas and Haniyeh have been engaged in a bitter turf battle since Hamas won January parliamentary elections and formed a Cabinet in March. Abbas, who was elected separately last year, responded by working to consolidate his power — and especially his control of the security forces.

Hamas retaliated by sending a militia of Palestinian militants who answer to the Cabinet into the streets of Gaza last week over Abbas’ veto.

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