June 28, 2012 - 12:00am

Islamic Hamas movement on Thursday urged Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas not to receive Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz.

The meeting between two leaders, which is scheduled on Sunday in the West Bank city of Ramallah, will be the first time in years that Abbas meet a senior Israeli official, especially since the peace talks between the two sides stalled in 2010.

"This meeting benefits only Israel," said Sami Abu Zuhri, a spokesman for Hamas, Abbas' bitter rival which governs the Gaza Strip.

"We call on Abbas to cancel this meeting, which gives the Israeli occupation a chance to cover its crimes and promotes itself as eager for peace," Abu Zuhri added.

He urged Abbas to focus on achieving Palestinian internal reconciliation, especially between his Fatah party and Hamas.

Palestinian officials said the meeting between Abbas and Mofaz is not part of any round of negotiations, affirming that the peace talks will not resume until Israel stops settlement building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Mofaz, the head of Israel's centrist Kadima party, joined the coalition of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last month. Since then, he has called for meeting Abbas.


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