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Abbas: Hamas Takeover of Gaza 'Destructive'


Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip in June was a "destructive" event that undermines the quest for a Palestinian state.

Mr. Abbas said Wednesday he will not speak with Hamas until the militant group returns Gaza to his authority. He made the comments after talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in the Egyptian port of Alexandria.

Mr. Abbas fired Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and his unity Cabinet following Hamas' seizure of Gaza.

Also Wednesday, Mr. Abbas's government said it accidentally paid salaries to about 2,600 Hamas militiamen.Officials say they ordered the bank deposits to be canceled, but some Hamas fighters had already withdrawn the money.

In another development, Hamas authorities fired a Fatah official at Gaza's main (Shifa) hospital, angering doctors and nurses who staged a two-hour strike.

Mr. Abbas appointed a Fatah-led government in the West Bank to replace the unity government he fired. Hamas rejects the Cabinet as illegitimate and says it wants a dialogue with Fatah to reach a new power-sharing arrangement for Gaza.

Mr. Abbas says he spoke with Mr. Mubarak about a Middle East peace conference proposed by U.S. President George Bush for later this year.

The conference is aimed at advancing peace talks between Mr. Abbas' government and Israel while isolating Hamas.

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

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