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Hamas Threatens to Boycott Palestinian Unity Talks

The Palestinian Hamas faction has threatened to boycott Egyptian-sponsored reconciliation talks unless its rival, Fatah, halts a crackdown on the Islamist group in the West Bank.

Hamas leaders said Sunday it will be impossible to participate in the talks unless Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, a Fatah leader, stops arresting Hamas supporters in the vicinity of the West Bank city of Hebron.

Late last month, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas deployed hundreds of security officers to Hebron as part of what he said is a widening crackdown on criminals and militants.

Egypt has invited Hamas and Fatah, along with smaller Palestinian factions, to a meeting in Cairo on November 9 to settle the conflict between the two larger groups. The factions have been divided since Hamas militants drove Fatah fighters out of Gaza in June 2007 and seized control of the territory.

On Thursday, Hamas announced it would release 17 jailed Fatah members as a goodwill gesture ahead of the talks in Egypt.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.