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7 Palestinians Killed in Hamas-Fatah Clashes in Gaza

Celebrations to mark the 43rd anniversary of the founding of the Palestinian Fatah movement turned into deadly clashes in the Gaza Strip, claiming the lives of at least seven people.

The fighting between Hamas and Fatah supporters Monday and Tuesday came after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said in a speech that he is ready to open a "new page" in relations between Hamas and his Fatah party.

He also renewed a proposal for early elections to help resolve the internal Palestinian conflict, and he urged Hamas to relinquish control of Gaza before reconciliation talks begin.

A Hamas spokesman, Fawzi Barhoum, responded to Mr. Abbas's speech by rejecting the president's conditions for talks.

Mr. Abbas also called on Israel to stop settlement construction in the West Bank.

Speaking on Israeli radio Tuesday, Israeli Cabinet member and Deputy Prime Minister Haim Ramon said Israel should dismantle its illegal outposts in the West Bank.

Ramon said that if Israel does not remove all outposts built after 2000, it could raise tensions with the United States and Israel during President Bush's visit to the region this month.

The fighting began Monday when Fatah activists rallied in the southern town of Khan Younis, despite a ban by Gaza's Hamas rulers.

Tensions between Hamas and Fatah have been high since the militant group won parliamentary elections in January 2006, routing the incumbent Fatah administration. The tensions erupted into deadly fighting that peaked with Hamas's takeover of Gaza in June.