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Palestinians feud, but Egypt and Hamas working more closely

Meeting in Cairo fails to mend the divide between President Abbas and Hamas over Gaza border.

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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas dug in his heels Wednesday after a meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to address the crisis over the Gaza border, publicly refusing to work with his Palestinian rival Hamas and calling for forces loyal to his government to take control of the border.

While his defiant tone favors the status quo – he called the Hamas seizure of the Gaza Strip last June "a coup" – it came in the face of changing realities on the ground.

Hamas and Egyptian authorities, for example, are working more closely now.

Across town in Cairo, senior Hamas leaders met Wednesday with Omar Suleiman, the powerful head of Egypt's intelligence services. In the border town of Rafah, Egyptian and Hamas security officials continued to work to restore order at the crossing. It was Hamas's first official visit to Cairo since June, when Mr. Mubarak criticized the Hamas takeover as hurting the chances of peace.

Some analysts had expected that the breaching of Gaza's economic isolation by Hamas-backed militants with explosives and bulldozers last week – hundreds of thousands have crossed the border to buy scarce goods since – would start forcing the divided Palestinian political factions back to the negotiating table.


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