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British Aid Convoy for Gaza Arrives in Rafah


A British relief convoy carrying aid for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip has arrived at the Rafah border crossing in Egypt.

The convoy led by British Parliamentarian George Galloway has traveled more than 14,000 kilometers from London over the past three weeks to reach Rafah.

It is unclear whether Egyptian authorities will allow the food and medical aid to pass into the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, which was crippled by Israel's recent military offensive.

In the West Bank Sunday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas urged Hamas to participate in a national unity government.

He said the new government must accept past Palestinian agreements, which includes Israel's right to exist. Hamas has rejected that condition.

Mr. Abbas made the comments as negotiators from his Fatah Party prepared to meet Hamas officials in Egypt Tuesday for reconciliation talks.

Hamas pushed Fatah security forces from Gaza in 2007, after defeating the party in the 2006 parliamentary election. The next Palestinian presidential and parliamentary elections are scheduled for January 2010.

In Jerusalem Sunday, the parents of an Israeli soldier kidnapped by Gaza militants moved into a tent outside Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's house to pressure the government to bring him home.

Militants seized the soldier, Gilad Shalit, in a cross-border raid after the Hamas takeover in 2006.

Also Sunday, Israel carried out air strikes on smuggling tunnels and a suspected arms storage building in Gaza in response to rocket attacks by Palestinian militants. No injuries were reported.

The Israeli military conducted a deadly three-week offensive in Gaza in late December to try to stop the rocket attacks. Both Hamas and Israel declared a cease-fire in January, but the violence continues.

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


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