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Abbas Urges Hamas to Renounce Violence


Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has called for the Islamic militant group Hamas to renounce violence. Mr. Abbas is also warning Israel that unilateral moves to demarcate its borders will lead to a deepening crisis.

In a speech to mark Nakba, what the Palestinians call their day of mourning to commemorate the loss of their homeland with the establishment of Israel, Mr. Abbas called for Hamas to avoid fiery speeches and slogans that bring about isolation.

The Palestinian President also called for Israel not to move unilaterally to set its own border. Mr. Abbas says if Israel sets its borders on its own the region will experience a deeper spiral of violence.

Senior Israeli officials said last week they could demarcate their final border by 2008 and will only wait until the end of this year to see if Palestinians are willing to negotiate a border.

Israeli officials also say no negotiations will take place unless the Hamas-dominated Palestinian government agrees to recognize Israel - something Hamas refuses to do.

President Abbas is visiting Russia this week for talks with President Vladimir Putin aimed at reviving a dialogue with Israel. They are also to discuss resolving how to provide funds to ease a growing humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian territories, while bypassing the Hamas-controlled Palestinian Authority.

Russia is a key member of the so-called Middle East Peace Quartet; along with the United States, the European Union, and the United Nations. Last week the Quartet said it would establish a temporary financial mechanism to funnel aid to the Palestinians.

But differences have surfaced since then over whether the salaries of Palestinian Authority employees would be paid under the plan - something the U.S. opposes, saying that would amount to direct aid flowing to Hamas.

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