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Haniyeh calls for strategic dialogue on statehood

Sept. 26, 2011 6:34 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 28, 2011 10:12 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (AFP) - Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh on Monday called for an inter-Palestinian strategic dialogue to decide on a joint strategy for establishing a Palestinian state.

"We are in favor of a strategic dialogue that will lead to a joint strategy regarding Palestine and activating the reconciliation we signed," he told reporters, referring to a unity deal between Hamas and its Fatah rivals which was signed in May but has yet to be implemented.

His remarks were made just days after President and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas went to the United Nations to formally request that the world body grant full membership to a Palestinian state.

Although Gaza's Hamas rulers did not actively oppose the move to seek UN membership, they say they were not consulted over the decision and have argued that it had "no substance" because it would not achieve concrete results in ending the Israeli occupation.

The Islamist movement banned rallies in support of the UN initiative, although dozens of women defied the ban and held a demonstration on Friday.

"We are not against a state but we disagree with this political activity and this initiative," Haniyeh said.

"The Palestinian cause is a cause of a nation and Palestinian officials should not be alone facing American and Zionist policies. We should invest in the revival of the nation to toughen our positions," he added.

The two Palestinian national movements should work together to ensure their case was put before the Arab and Islamic world, he said.

"We want to uproot the Palestinian cause from American and Zionist circles and bring it back to the Palestinian, Arab and Islamic ones."

Hamas, he said, would back the establishment of a Palestinian state "on any liberated land" -- on condition it would not have to recognize Israel.

"We say liberation first then the state because states can't be created through UN decisions or through maneuvers and compromises, but through steadfastness and resistance."

Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmad said Monday that talks with Hamas would take place in Cairo by early October. Officials from both parties would discuss reconciliation and political issues, al-Ahmad said.

As he was returning from New York on Saturday, Abbas told reporters he was committed to the "next step in a comprehensive dialogue" with Hamas and also wanted to strike up dialogue with them over the direction of the Palestinian endeavor.

"Some Hamas officials opposed the (UN) approach by the Palestinian leadership and had reservations, but overall, I received support among leaders," he said.

"We will discuss reconciliation with Hamas but also the prospects of the Palestinian movement."

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