July 29, 2010 - 12:00am

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said here on Wednesday that reunification of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip must be carried on simultaneously with the Palestinian- Israeli peace process, Egypt's official MENA news agency reported.

In a meeting with editors-in-chief of Egyptian newspapers in Cairo, Abbas reviewed the latest developments in the Palestinian arena, especially those concerning the peace process and efforts aiming to resume direct negotiations and achieve Palestinian reconciliation.

Abbas made it clear that he will not sign any agreement with the Israelis unless the Gaza Strip is reunited with the West Bank.

"If an agreement is reached about the establishment of a Palestinian state, the issue will be put to a referendum," he said.

Abbas reiterated that he will not accept a shift to direct talks until progress is achieved on security and border issues.

He also listed settlement freeze and recognition of the peace process references as conditions for direct talks.

Abbas arrived in Cairo earlier on Wednesday from Jordan for a two-day visit.

He will attend the extraordinary meeting of the Arab Peace Initiative Committee at the level of Arab Foreign Ministers, due to kick off on Thursday at the Arab League General Secretariat.

The committee meeting is going to discuss the U.S. requests to start direct negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis. Abbas will then brief the Arab foreign ministers and the Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa on the latest developments of the indirect talks.


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