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Palestinian President Vows to Pursue Mideast Peace

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas gestures as he speaks during a press conference with members of the Israeli Peace Initiative in Ramallah, April 28, 2011

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says the Palestinian Authority will continue to seek peace talks with Israel while his Fatah movement pursues reconciliation with the rival Palestinian faction, Hamas.

Abbas commented on Thursday, a day after Fatah and Hamas announced an initial agreement on unity following talks mediated by Egypt.

The agreement between the Palestinian factions calls for the formation of an interim government followed by presidential and legislative elections within a year.

The deal was sharply criticized by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday because Israel considers Hamas a terrorist group.

He said Abbas must choose "peace with Israel or peace with Hamas." Netanyahu added: "There is no possibility for peace with both."

The Hamas and Fatah movements have been divided since 2007. Hamas rules the coastal Gaza Strip. Fatah is the ruling party in the West Bank. The two areas are separated by Israel which does not allow routine passage from one to the other.

Hamas is not a party to peace talks between the Palestinian Authority and Israel. Rockets have been fired at Israel from the Hamas-controlled areas and Israel has responded with air attacks.

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

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