Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is making a heavy push for reconciliation with Hamas and is willing to give up hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. aid if that's what it takes to forge a Palestinian unity deal, his adviser said on Monday.
"The Palestinians need American money, but if they use it as a way of pressuring us, we are ready to relinquish that aid," aide Azzam Ahmad said.
Abbas' Fatah movement has been divided from its rival Hamas since the later overran the Gaza Strip in 2007, expelling forces loyal to the Palestinian Authority. The U.S. and Israel consider Hamas a terrorist group.
Israel Radio reported on Monday that Abbas has also ordered lawmakers in the Palestinian Authority to complete draft legislation for a future state within six months, to present to the international community and win United Nations recognition of independent statehood according to the 1967 borders.
Abbas met with his rivals in the Hamas militant group over the weekend in an attempt to end nearly four years of infighting that has complicated the quest for a Palestinian state.
The meeting was the first to involve Abbas in a year and had a relatively modest goal - to arrange a trip by Abbas to Hamas-ruled Gaza for more talks. He has not set foot in the territory since Hamas took over in 2007.
With the collapse of peace talks with Israel, Abbas and his Western-backed government have turned their attention to reconciling with the Iranian-backed Hamas movement that ousted his forces from the Gaza Strip in 2007 and left him governing only in the West Bank.
Palestinians have said that both territories should be included in the future Palestinian state.
Hamas and other Gaza militants oppose peace with Israel and have rained rockets and mortar fire down over the past week on Israeli communities across the border. No one has been killed, but the Israel Defense Forces responded by deploying its Iron Dome missile defense system in the south for the first time.
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