Abbas calls for dialogue with Hamas

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas reiterated his call for renewed talks between his Fatah and the rival Hamas movement controlling Gaza, a day after the worst internecine clashes in the volatile strip killed at least nine people and injured dozens, dpa reported.

Re-establishing a dialogue with Hamas was the only way to restore Palestinian unity, Abbas told reporters after talks with Jordan's King Abdullah II.

"We have no choice but to work together to bridge the gap between us and Hamas, which is also urged to accept what is logical, rational and legal."

He was hinting at a reversal of Hamas' June 2007 violent take-over of the Gaza Strip, in which the radical Islamic movement seized sole control over the salient by overpowering the headquarters of Fatah- dominated security forces answering to Abbas.

Abbas had as a result dismissed a short-lived unity government led by Hamas and severed all ties with the rival Palestinian movement, but it has ignored the dismissal and continued to administer the strip with a de-facto government.

The Palestinian leader said that despite what happened in the Gaza Strip over the past few days "we cannot give up hope" in closing Palestinian ranks.

At least nine Palestinians were killed and 8o injured in the Gaza Strip on Saturday in fighting between Hamas policemen and a pro-Fatah Gaza clan accused of hiding the perpetrators of a Gaza City car bombing which had killed five Hamas gunmen and a small girl last weekend.

The two Palestinian groups also traded arrest of members of the two factions in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

Responding to a question, Abbas said Arab support was "indispensable for addressing such a very dangerous situation". He alluded to ongoing efforts by the Egyptian government for arranging negotiations between Fatah and Hamas.

The Palestinian president said he intended to continue holding talks with Ehud Olmert despite the Israeli premier's plan to resign in September.

Meanwhile, King Abdullah expressed "concern" over the inter-Palestinian fighting and urged Palestinians to resort to "the language of dialogue," a royal court statement said.

"The continuation of fighting between Palestinian factions will harm the Palestinian cause and endanger efforts aimed at setting up an independent Palestinian state," the monarch told Abbas.

King Abdullah warned that "the failure to achieve tangible progress in the ongoing negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians will deepen instability and enhance violence and tension in the Middle East", the statement said.

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