Palestinian PM meets Hamas leaders

Nov. 6, 2004 at 3:01 PM
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GAZA, Nov. 6 (UPI) -- Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmad Qureia Saturday met with Hamas leaders for talks after Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's health deteriorated dramatically.

Ismail Haniyeh, a leading Hamas member, told United Press International that a bilateral meeting between the two sides was taking place in Gaza to exchange views in light of Arafat's deteriorating health.

He said the meeting was part of similar talks between the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian factions to "work seriously to achieve the higher Palestinian interests, starting with national unity and common action."

Haniyeh added that the "current phase constitutes an important junction for the Palestinian people and we must work together to protect that unity."

Qureia had earlier in the day met with representatives of the 13 Palestinian militant and political groups, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, along with the heads of the security services and police forces.

They agreed to restore security and discipline in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The prime minister later said that talks also evolved around including all factions in decision-making.

Since Arafat was taken to France for medical treatment more than a week ago and amid reports that he was dying, Palestinian meetings have taken place around the clock to prevent a power vacuum in the event of Arafat's demise.

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