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Mahmoud Abbas said this week that the Palestinian Authority is ready to enter peace talks with Israel. The president’s comments came during a call with Vladimir Putin and follow a rare joint press conference between the PA and Hamas last week. Abbas told the Russian president that the Palestinians believe any negotiations should be based on “international legitimacy” and take part with the participation of other countries, a statement released by the PA’s official news agency, Wafa. said. Abbas wants talks to be under the auspices of the Quartet, which comprises the US, EU, UN and Russia. The PA sent a counter-proposal to Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan to the Quartet in May. However, Abbas’ offer of talks follows a controversial joint press conference last week between the PA and Hamas, designed to underline their joint opposition to Israeli plans to annex parts of the West Bank. Fatah secretary-general Jibril Rajoub and Hamas deputy chief Saleh al-Arouri announced that their parties would “unify their efforts” and collaborate “on the ground”.

Al-Arouri, who participated in the conference remotely from Lebanon, directs Hamas’ terror operations in the West Bank. He is believed to have masterminded multiple attacks, including the 2014 kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers which triggered a bloody conflict between Israeli and Hamas. Rajoub said he wanted to “open a new page [in Hamas-Fatah ties] and set an example for the people, prisoners and martyrs”. Hamas launched a violent coup against Fatah in 2007 and seized control of Gaza. Attempts by Abbas to broker a reconciliation agreement have foundered upon Hamas’ unwillingness to give up its weapons and accept the PA’s authority.
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