Palestinian factions kick off talks in Ramallah
In attempt to ease tension between rival gunmen in Palestinian territories, Chairman Abbas, Prime Minister Haniyeh host talks between factions in Ramallah; sides to discuss proposal by Palestinian prisoners to accept establishment of Palestinian state within 1967 borders
Talks between rival Palestinian factions kicked off on Thursday at the Muqata compound in Ramallah.
Easing tension between the two rivaling parties will be a top priority for PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh after violent clashes between their supporters claimed at least ten lives over the past two weeks.
Abbas was expected to stress national unity and press the Hamas-led government to respect interim agreements signed with Israel.
Abbas was also expected to remind Haniyeh that the he is the sole authority in overseeing security issues and negotiate peace with Israel.
The Palestinian leader will positively respond to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's speech in Washington, where the Israeli leader extended his "hand in peace" to Abbas.
Aides said Hamas' Haniyeh was expected to stress that Hamas is committed to preventing further escalation in the Palestinian territories.
He was also expected to declare that his government agrees in principle to the establishment of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, but will fall short of mentioning a key international demand that Hamas recognize Israel.
The Palestinian prime minister will reiterate that his government doesn't oppose Abbas holding peace talks with Israel.
The talks will be screened live from Ramallah in the Palestinian Parliament building in Gaza via satellite.