Abbas 'Gives Up' on Hamas

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RAMALLAH, West Bank - Palestinian Authority PA President Mahmoud Abbas is giving up on forming a unity government with Hamas, a senior aide in Ramallah said on Thursday.

According to Yasser Abed Rabbo, Abbas has asked PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to form a new government, after months of stalemated Egyptian-mediated negotiations with Hamas.

"If they continue like this, it could last for years," Rabbo said.

Neither Fatah nor Hamas is hopeful that the next round of talks, scheduled for May 16, will be successful.

"There are no signs on the horizon of a power-sharing deal with Fatah," Hamas official Mahmoud Ramahi said.

Ramahi reiterated that "the movement will not accept" the Quartet's -- United States, European Union, United Nations and Russia -- three benchmarks of renouncing terror, recognizing Israel's right to exist and accepting previously signed agreements between Israel and the PA.

But, he added, any attempt by Abbas to form a government without Hamas "would undermine" the coalition talks.

Though the PA government accepts the concept of "two states for two peoples," it does not acknowledge Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state.

In June 2007, after Hamas defeated PA security forces and took control of the Gaza Strip, Abbas dissolved the then-three-month old unity government, formed an emergency government, deposed Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh as prime minister and appointed Fayyad in his place.

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