Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, met on Saturday with Hamas representatives in the West Bank and told them he plans to head to Gaza in an attempt to end internal rifts and to form an interim unity government run by independent figures. During the meeting, Abbas stated that there can be no peace with Israel without establishing an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.

The Hamas leaders who met Abbas are Dr. Aziz Dweik, Nasser Ed Deen Al Shaer, Samir Abu Aisha, abdul-Rahman Zeidan, Ayman Daraghma, Mohammad Abu Teir and Wasfi Qabha.

He also stated that the Palestinians need to achieve unity and reconciliation before they can hold national and presidential elections.

Ten days ago, Abbas presented an initiative offering to head to the Gaza Strip to hold talks with Hamas leaders in order to boost unity efforts. and to form a new interim government.

During his Saturday meeting with Hamas representatives in the West Bank, Abbas presented details regarding his plan that basically states that the interim government will include technocrats and national figures who will start preparing for new legislative and presidential elections, in addition to preparing for new elections for the Palestinian National Council.

Abbas stated that the current changes in the region and the rising challenges at home, mainly the Israeli threats to launch a new offensive against Gaza, push the Palestinians to unite, and stressed on the importance of maintaining truce with Israel.

The Maan News Agency interviewed former Minister of Detainees, Dr. Wasfi Qabha, one of the Hamas leaders who met Abbas Saturday, who stated that Abbas clarified some main issues and confirmed that national talks will not start from scratch, but will pick up from the point they stopped and will be based on what have been agreed upon during previous unity talks in Cairo.

Qabha stated that he believes that Hamas will positively respond to Abbas, especially since the meeting created a positive impression while several Hamas leaders welcomed Abbas’ initiative to visit Gaza for the first time since bloody clashes took place between Hamas and Fateh gunmen in 2007.

During the meeting with Abbas, Palestinian Legislative Council head, Dr. Aziz Dweik, handed the president a letter which he described as a letter that does not represent Hamas’ Political Bureau, but represents the Palestinian people.

Dr. Dweik added that the letter also includes a number of issues that, if approved, could lead to reconciliation.

The two-hour meeting also stressed on the importance of stopping political arrests, political profiling, and other issues that jeopardize trust between different factions.

Dr. Dweik also welcomed the initiative of Abbas but stated that Hamas will officially announce its response in the coming few days.

Head of the Fateh parliamentary bloc, Azzam Al Ahmad, also described the meeting as positive, adding that, so far, Hamas did not conduct any practical measures to facilitate the visit.

Al Ahmad added that he hopes all obstacles will be removed, confirming that practical results cannot be achieved without ensuring that Abbas makes it into the Gaza Strip.

He further stated that despite some negative statements made by a number of Hamas leaders regarding the initiative of Abbas, Fateh will conduct all needed efforts to create a positive atmosphere to end internal divisions and achieve reconciliation.

In related news, Hamas stated Saturday that resistance factions in the Gaza Strip agreed to halt the firing of homemade shells into adjacent Israeli areas should Israel stop it attacks against the coastal region.

Hamas spokesperson in Gaza, Ismail Radwan, stated following a meeting with leaders of several factions in Gaza that resistance groups are committed to restoring calm across the border as long as Israel is committed to restoring the de-facto ceasefire.