Bbc News
October 11, 2007 - 2:43pm

The Palestinian Islamist movement, Hamas, has said it is ready to hold reconciliation talks with the rival Fatah group of President Mahmoud Abbas.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniya hinted Hamas might be willing to relinquish control of Gaza, which it seized from Fatah in June, in a statement on its website.

Mr Haniya said his group's control of the coastal territory was "temporary".

Mr Abbas has ruled out reconciliation with Hamas until it gives up the Gaza Strip and submits to his authority.

Later, a senior Fatah official, Ahmed Abdul Rahman, denied that talks had been planned and accused Hamas of trying to mislead the public.

"We have not heard about such a dialogue," he told the Reuters news agency.

After Hamas ejected Fatah from Gaza, Mr Abbas declared Mr Haniya's coalition government void and appointed a new prime minister.


"There is a serious movement in the realm of Palestinian dialogue and we have agreed to hold a dialogue with Fatah in one of the Arab capitals," Mr Haniya said in the statement.

"Our administration in Gaza is temporary," he added.

Mr Haniya said the talks would be held after Eid al-Fitr, the festival marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

One of Mr Haniya's advisers, Ahmed Yousef, told the BBC that Hamas had always been ready to renew dialogue with Fatah.

"We have said all the time that we are ready to discuss all the issues on the negotiating table, and we are willing that one of these countries like Egypt or Saudi Arabia mediate or facilitate such a kind of meeting," he told the World Today programme.

Mr Yousef insisted that Hamas had not, and had never intended to establish a separate Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip.

"Any future Palestinian state should include all occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza," he added. "This is going to be the future Palestinian state, so there is no intention for anybody to have a state in Gaza."


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017