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Fatah angered by Hamas talks with Israel

Feb. 21, 2013 at 10:41 AM

RAMALLAH, West Bank, Feb. 21 (UPI) -- Reports of negotiations between Hamas and Israel have angered Fatah officials, who charge the group is not authorized to hold such talks, officials say.

Representatives of Israel and Hamas recently arrived in Cairo for what are said to be indirect talks about consolidating the current cease-fire in the Gaza Strip, The Jerusalem Post reported Thursday.

Jamal Muheissen, a member of the Fatah Central Committee, said the talks were "unacceptable" because Fatah is the "sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people."

Muheissen also criticized Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi for acting as a mediator in the talks, accusing him of trying to undermine the Palestine Liberation Organization's status and "tame" Hamas.

Abdullah Abdullah, another senior Fatah official, expressed fear that Hamas would use the talks to establish a separate entity for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

A Fatah spokesman, Ahmed Assaf, charged the talks would have "catastrophic consequences for Palestinians."

Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar attempted to downplay the purpose of the talks.

He said they were negotiating solely over "humanitarian issues" such as reopening border crossings into Gaza, the cease-fire and hunger strikes by Palestinians held in Israeli prisons.

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