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Haniyeh phones Abbas for first time since reconciliation deal

April 25, 2014 10:53 P.M. (Updated: April 27, 2014 10:44 A.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh phoned President Mahmoud Abbas for the first time Friday after the announcement of a new inter-Palestinian reconciliation deal.

Haniyeh emphasized the importance of implementing the agreement according to the set timeline.

The Hamas leader said that it was critical to ensure that there was a political and financial safety net to protect the deal, and to improve trust between the two sides.

The agreement would reintegrate Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, into the PLO, which currently controls the West Bank.

The move ends seven years of Palestinian political division, but Israeli authorities denounced the PLO for reconciling with Hamas, which it deems a terrorist group.

Israeli officials subsequently halted talks and said they would refuse to deal with any Palestinian government backed by Hamas.

PLO leaders have maintained, however, that any government that emerges from the deal will honor previous PLO commitments, including to the peace talks and recognition of Israel.

Also Friday, US President Barack Obama said that the decision was "unhelpful" for the peace process.

In his first public comments on the issue since Israel halted peace talks with Palestinians on Thursday, Obama lamented the lack of political will to make "tough decisions" on either side.

But he said his administration would not give up on Secretary of State John Kerry's peace push, despite the latest setbacks and Israel's declaration that the Palestinian move had scuppered the American initiative.

Obama's statements come a day after Israel halted all peace negotiations with the Palestine Liberation Organization over the major reconciliation deal.

Although Hamas has accepted the idea of a Palestinian state in the 1967 borders, it has said it would not explicitly recognize the state of Israel.

Israel, however, has never explicitly recognized the right to exist of a Palestinian state.
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