Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, met Saturday with seven Hamas officials to try to negotiate a reconciliation between his Fatah-dominated authority in the West Bank and the Hamas government in Gaza. It has been a year since the rivals last convened, and Abbas explained that the only way to move forward was for the two warring groups to agree to form a temporary independent government in order to rebuild Gaza—with the caveat that legislative and presidential elections be held off for six months. Abbas allegedly wants to sign a deal with the leaders of Hamas in Gaza, where he has not been in four years since a civil war forced him and his Fatah colleagues to the West Bank. The Palestinian Authority had previously turned its attention to seeking a deal with Israel in regards to Palestinian statehood, but these talks recently broke down over Israeli settlements in the West Bank and other issues. Tense relations between Iran-backed Hamas and Israel over the last several years have recently bubbled to the surface again. After Saturday's meeting, militant groups in Gaza announced that they would agree to a ceasefire with Israel if Israel stops conducting military operations and attacks on Palestinian territory. Israel has not yet commented on the proposal.
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