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Abbas says preserving national unity a priority

Abbas says preserving national unity a priority
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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has appealed for national unity, saying he will not allow interfactional fighting to impede the struggle for statehood. He spoke to thousands of supporters, who gathered for ongoing celebrations to mark the 42nd anniversary of Fatah’s battle against Israel.

“The priority for me is to preserve national unity and prohibit internal fighting,” Abbas said. “Spilling Palestinian blood is a red line we must not cross. Our rifles must remain directed against the occupation, not against each other.”

Fatah and Hamas have been at loggerheads since Abbas called for early elections in December. This followed months of failed talks aimed at forming a unity government acceptable to the West.

Interfactional fighting since December has left more than 30 people dead. While not referring to Hamas specifically, Abbas said opponents of the elections should challenge them in the courts not on the streets.

A presidential aide said coalition talks would resume soon and if they failed, an election would take place.

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