Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said on Monday he was proposing ideas that include the temporary deployment of Arab security forces in Gaza to help reunite Hamas-run Gaza with the West Bank.
Fayyad said his ideas, proposed in meetings with foreign Arab and Western officials, complemented an initiative by President Mahmoud Abbas last month to offer a national dialogue to end the rift between the secular factions of the Palestine Liberation Organization and their Islamist rival Hamas.
Fayyad said restoring Palestinian Authority control over the Gaza Strip, run by Hamas since violence a year ago and separated from Abbas' Fatah-run West Bank "is a key objective of policy and has to be pursued vigorously at all times".
"The separation has to end. I'm deeply worried that over the past year, the separation has been reinforced. This situation has to be reversed quickly," he told Reuters in an interview.
"What I've been talking about are ideas aimed at providing practical solutions to issues of concern that have been cited as impediments to the achievement of unity," Fayyad said.
"The ideas include seeking Arab security support to help with the security situation in Gaza and deal with the obvious need for help that we have in restructuring our security capabilities and provide security services in a manner that is reassuring and effective to all during a transitional period."
Arab diplomats said Egypt, which has mediated a fragile, truce between Hamas and Israel, was ready to host a dialogue between the Palestinian factions but was not eager to deploy its troops in Gaza. Other Arab states, however, said they were willing to consider the proposal, diplomats said.
Israel skepticalIsrael has in the past two years softened its opposition to having foreign troops in the Palestinian territories but remains skeptical that many states would be willing to contribute.
Abbas dismissed a Hamas-led government last June following its seizure of the Gaza Strip and appointed a Western-backed government headed by Fayyad in the West Bank.
Hamas, backed by Syria and Iran, has consolidated its power in Gaza despite sanctions imposed by Israel and its Western allies and much of the Arab world for refusing to recognize Israel and past peace agreements with Israel.
Abbas has sought the help of Arab states to convince Hamas to end what he says is its coup in Gaza and end the rift that has undermined his peace talks with Israel aimed at establishing a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza.
Hamas has said it wants to confine reconciliation talks to Abbas' Fatah movement and insists talks should be without any preconditions.
Hamas regards its own Ismail Haniyeh, who headed an elected government from 2006, as still being prime minister and rarely responds to comments by Fayyad, a former World Bank economist who is not a member of Fatah.