Hamas accepts Abbas offer of talks: Haniya

Palestinian reconciliation talks back on track


Hamas leader Ismail Haniya accepted, on Thursday, an offer from Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas to hold reconciliation talks.

"We welcome the call by president Abbas to hold a national dialogue and the new positive spirit in his speech, and we state that our hand reaches out for national unity," Haniya said in a televised address.

"We call for the immediate launch of a national dialogue based on the Yemen initiative" that foresees a return to the situation in the Gaza Strip prior to the Hamas takeover, Haniya said.

He said Hamas was ready to show the necessary flexibility to ensure the Palestinian dialogue succeeds, and he called on Fatah to do the same.

"We urge the Arab League to sponsor this dialogue and reconciliation, as it did with our Lebanese brothers," Haniya said, adding that the talks should take place on the understanding that there was "neither victor nor vanquished."

The Arab League oversaw a deal struck on May 21 in the Qatari capital of Doha between rival Lebanese politicians, ending an 18-month crisis that erupted into street battles that killed 65 people.

The Palestinian president Abbas had on Wednesday called for reconciliation talks with Hamas, after months of insisting that they first give up the Gaza Strip.

Hamas had seized the Gaza Strip from forces loyal to Abbas last June.

"For the sake of unity and following calls from Arab and friendly countries to return to the situation that prevailed in Gaza (before the takeover), I call for a comprehensive national dialogue based on the Yemeni initiative," said Abbas in a speech.