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Palestinian factions aim for coalition govt

DAMASCUS, Syria, June 19 (UPI) -- Rival Palestinians are seeking to avert further internal confrontations by forming a national coalition cabinet based on a consensus program.

Damascus-based Hamas Politburo Chief Khaled Meshaal said after a meeting with Syrian Deputy President for Political Affairs Farouk Sharaa on Monday that his group is keen on ensuring the success of inter-Palestinian dialogue to iron out differences.

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"We have reaffirmed our endeavor to make inter-Palestinian national dialogue successful and reach an agreement and political consensus based on our national principles," Meshaal said.

He stressed that Hamas is committed to "the national principles that guarantee the recovery of Palestinian national rights, creation of an independent state and the right of return for refugees and recovering Jerusalem."

"We have underscored the need to continue our quest in that direction by forming a national coalition government based on a consensus program," he added.

Meshaal pointed out that big efforts are being deployed by Hamas's leadership inside the occupied territories to achieve consensus and work on restructuring and reviving the Palestine Liberation Organization. The PLO does not include Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Rival gunmen from Hamas, which controls the Palestinian government, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah clashed repeatedly in Gaza in past weeks sparking fears of possible civil strife from a harsh power struggle that took a dangerous turn after the militant group defeated Fatah in last January's general elections.

Meshaal said he discussed with Sharaa joint Arab action to break up the siege imposed on the Palestinians since Hamas formed the government three months ago.

Israel has held customs revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority and the United States and EU suspended badly needed assistance to the Palestinians after Hamas grabbed power.

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