Abbas: 'I am ready to go to Gaza tomorrow'

AFP , Wednesday 16 Mar 2011

Palestinian president gives Hamas chance to join government and suggests a personal visit to end division

Palestinian shout slogans during a rally in Gaza City calling for an end to Palestinian divisions (Reuters)

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said on Wednesday he was ready to delay the formation of a new cabinet in order to give Hamas a chance to join a unity government.

"I am ready to delay the formation of the new government to give Hamas a chance to join," he said in a speech at the start of a two-day meeting of the PLO Central Council, a

PLO legislative body of 130 members in which Hamas holds the majority. "I am ready to delay the formation of a government now if we reach an agreement tomorrow or the day after," Abbas said in a speech broadcast live on Palestinian television.

He added he is "ready to go to Gaza tomorrow" to end the division between his Fatah movement and Hamas.

Hamas responeded to Abbas statement welcoming the positive response of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas to an invitation to visit Gaza for talks to end the division, an official said.

"Hamas welcomes Abbas's acceptance of the Haniya initiative," senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri told AFP, referring to an invitation extended by the Islamist movement's prime minister Ismail Haniya during a live broadcast on Tuesday.

"We will start preparing for the visit," he said.


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