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Abbas Postpones Unity Government Speech to Palestinians

15 February 2007

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has postponed Thursday's scheduled speech about a new unity government his Fatah faction is to form with rival Hamas.

Officials say the delay was because of a dispute concerning the power-sharing deal the two factions signed last week in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

Mr. Abbas was expected to promote the deal before traveling to the Gaza Strip to accept the resignation of Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas, and re-appoint him to lead the new government.

But Fatah officials say Hamas leaders have presented a list of conditions they said must be met before Mr. Haniyeh resigns.

Both sides say Mr. Abbas and Mr. Haniyeh are still scheduled to meet in Gaza Thursday.

Fatah and Hamas have been locked in a power struggle since the Islamic faction won Palestinian parliamentary elections last year.

Factional fighting has killed more than 90 Palestinians since December.

Following last week's power-sharing deal, Palestinians were hoping that the formation of a unity government will convince international donors to restore aid. Donors suspended aid after Hamas took power, because of the militant group's refusal to renounce violence, recognize Israel and accept interim Israeli-Palestinian accords.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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