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Abbas asks France to lobby Hamas allies for Gaza truce
Published Friday 18/07/2014 (updated) 19/07/2014 10:25
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A handout picture released by the Palestinian president's office shows
Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas (R) meeting with French Foreign
Minister Laurent Fabius ahead of a meeting in Cairo on July 18, 2014
(PPO/AFP Thaer Ghanem)
CAIRO (AFP) -- Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas reached out for French help Friday to lobby Hamas's regional allies to influence it into accepting a truce with Israel, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said.

Egypt-mediated talks to end the escalating Gaza Strip war have faltered, with Hamas insisting on a comprehensive ceasefire that would end the Israeli blockade of the coastal enclave, Palestinian officials said.

Abbas asked France to lobby Hamas allies Qatar and Turkey to pressure the militants into accepting the truce, Fabius told reporters after meeting the Palestinian leader in Cairo.

He said he had called his Qatari counterpart after Abbas's request and added he would also contact Ankara.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who overthrew the Muslim Brotherhood from power last year, has sought to isolate Hamas allies and initially demanded that the militants unconditionally accept a truce to end the 11-day war, as Israel already had.

The truce stipulated a ceasefire first, followed by easing restrictions on border crossings and negotiations later -- something Hamas says it cannot trust Israel to commit to.

Cairo has worked instead to bolster the role of Abbas -- its ally based in the West Bank and rival to Hamas -- in reaching a deal to end the conflict which has killed at least 278 Palestinians since July 8.

Egypt has also rejected demands by Hamas to involve Turkey and Qatar -- both regional rivals to Egypt's new government -- in the process, Palestinian officials said.

"We demand a complete agreement and the end of the siege. The (Egyptians) respond that Israel can't accept this," said a senior Hamas official.

Pressure on Hamas

Abbas met Fabius at Cairo airport before leaving for Turkey.

"He (Abbas) asked me to contact the Turks and Qataris with whom we have good relations, because they themselves can exert a particular influence on Hamas," Fabius said.

"There can be influences that I hope can let Hamas accept the ceasefire that it has refused," Fabius said.

Later he told reporters that he called Qatari Foreign Minister Khaled al-Attiyah.

"He said that in his view, Hamas hopes for there to be negotiation points before a ceasefire , especially relating to the blockade," Fabius said.

It was unclear how receptive Turkey would be to such lobbying.

Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan again attacked Sisi on Friday, branding him a "tyrant" and suggesting he was unfit to mediate a ceasefire.

The senior Hamas official said the militants, who rejected an initial Egypt-proposed truce they said ignored their demands, will not back down even as Israel launched a ground incursion into Gaza overnight on Thursday.

Hamas also insists that Israel release Palestinian prisoners it had freed but rearrested and lift its siege of Gaza, Ahmed told AFP.

Egypt's foreign ministry has condemned the ground incursion but also lashed out at Hamas, saying the Islamist movement could have saved dozens of lives had it accepted Cairo's proposal.

Egypt, which has a peace treaty with Israel, shares borders with both Israel and Gaza.

Israel has blockaded the coastal strip since Hamas came into power in 2006, and Hamas later expelled Abbas's Fatah party from the enclave in a week of bloody clashes following what they called a coup attempt against the Hamas government.

Abbas and Hamas have agreed on a unity government of technocrats to end their seven-year split, but Israel has strongly opposed the unity deal.

Ma'an staff contributed to this report.
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1 ) Outlier / USA
18/07/2014 21:54
Hamas is Abbas' partner in a unity government, yet he is asking France to lobby it allies for a truce? Talk about a dysfunctional partnership!

2 ) Jake / Palestine
18/07/2014 23:22
Abbas can't even control his own colleagues, the so called "democratic" colleagues that have been sworn into the government, and now are all violent individuals.

3 ) nik / Rossia
18/07/2014 23:47
Because had Abbas not France to lobby that Israel ends the crippling siege on the coastal enclave, which means reopening all border crossings and allowing the entry of construction materials and all requirements needed to run the Gaza Strip’s power station. ??

4 ) @ Outlier-1 / USA too
19/07/2014 02:27
- Hamas is NOT interested in a truce, and only interested in making unrealistic demands (prisoners & ports), just like - The Palestinian PLO-Hamas government is NOT interested in Peace, and only interested in making unrealistic demands (1967 borders), and - Israel is in a position to ignore their demands, and continue with business as usual, until either a truce or peace interests Palestinians.

5 ) peter wilson nz / nz
19/07/2014 04:17
Here was a perfect opportunity for Abbas to become a Palestinian and embrace the struggle against the oppressor of all Palestinians-Israel. Instead he has shown the world his true Quisling colours. He won't even lift a finger to protect his own people in the West Bank. Israel has got him well stitched up-so sad for all Palestinians.
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