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Mideast talks undermined by arrest of Hamas leader

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Mideast talks undermined by arrest of Hamas leader

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The arrest by Israel of a senior Hamas figure has placed possible new strains on relations between the two main Palestinian groups. Aziz Dweik was arrested with another legislator on terrorism charges.

The Islamist movement is currently involved in reconciliation talks with the rival Fatah organisation of President Mahmoud Abbas. Hamas has urged him to suspend peace talks with Israel. It claims the arrest is intended to divide the Palestinian groups.

A Hamas spokesman said: “We condemn this kidnapping of the Head of the Legislative Council, Dr Aziz Dweik. This is an attempt to cripple the Council and an attempt to affect and delay the national reconciliation process.”

Hamas seized control of Gaza after a brief conflict with Fatah in 2006. Though now in dialogue, differences remain between the two sides, particularly on the issue of talks with Israel. Fatah has not yet signalled if it will suspend its exploratory discussions with Israel.