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Palestinian civil war fears mount ahead of Abbas speech

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Palestinian civil war fears mount ahead of Abbas speech


Amid fears that internal fighting among Palestinians could erupt into outright civil war Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh has held an urgent cabinet meeting to discuss the crisis. After the meeting the Hamas leader called for an end to the bloodshed of recent days.

The ruling militant group is locked in a deadly power struggle with the Fatah movement of President Mahmoud Abbas. There were further clashes on Friday at rallies in the West Bank and Gaza. They were called in protest against what Hamas believes was an attempt by Fatah gunmen to assassinate Haniyeh at the border between Gaza and Egypt.

Tensions could escalate today in response to a speech by Abbas in which he may call for an early general election. That would signal the end of any remaining hopes for a unity government between the two sides. Hamas has already said it would not accept holding early elections and that they would be illegal. Fatah officials say Abbas could do it by issuing a presidential decree. But some analysts doubt that under the present climate Abbas would go that far.

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