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Archive for Monday, April 24, 2006

Fatah, Hamas agree to calm tensions

April 24, 2006

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— The militant Hamas group and the rival Fatah Party agreed Sunday to work together to restore calm following violent clashes and mass protests across the Palestinian areas over their struggle for control over security forces.

In a meeting that ended early Sunday, Hamas and Fatah officials agreed to take steps to end the fighting.

"The two movements have agreed to call on our Palestinian masses to stop all displays that might lead to tension," Fatah official Maher Mekdad said, reading a joint statement. "They agreed to work together to strengthen national unity."

But no agreement was reached on control of the security forces, participants said. Outside the meeting, which was mediated by Egyptian security officials, thousands of Fatah supporters shouted anti-Hamas slogans.

President Mahmoud Abbas, whose Fatah Party lost January parliamentary elections, has been trying to shore up his already considerable powers to marginalize the rival Hamas group, which calls for the destruction of Israel and is listed as a terror organization by the United States and the European Union.

After the Hamas Cabinet took office last month, many Western nations froze desperately needed aid to the Palestinian government. The government is nearly three weeks late in paying March salaries to its 165,000 employees.

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