Speaking at a press conference in Tokyo, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said that the PA was cooperating with Israel to facilitate the upcoming pullout, and that Hamas may join the government in the aftermath of the upcoming legislative elections.

Abbas expressed hopes that the Gaza Strip pullout would mark the beginning of a diplomatic process between Israel and the Palestinians.

When asked about Hamas and other Palestinian opposition groups, Abbas said: “Those groups held talks and reached the decision to participate in the elections. Their leaders say they are willing to take part in the process and they may even be a part of the coalition.” 

Abbas expressed acceptance of the disengagement plan, stressing the importance of linking it with the road map.

“We accept the withdrawal plan offered by Israel and believe that it’s important to undertake everything in accordance with the road map,” Abbas said. 

The Palestinian leader said the withdrawal from Gaza is not a first and last step, as Israelis think.

Abbas also noted he intends to seek American financial aid in his upcoming meeting with President George W. Bush, scheduled for the end of May.