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Abbas Orders Investigation into Hamas Cash Smuggling Operation


Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has ordered an investigation into an attempt by a Hamas leader to smuggle more than 800-thousand dollars into the Gaza Strip.

Security forces loyal to Mr. Abbas say they confiscated the money from Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri at the Rafah crossing Friday.

Hamas said Abu Zuhri was carrying Arab donations for the new government, and is demanding the money back. But Mr. Abbas has ordered the Palestinian Attorney General to investigate.

The Hamas-led government is facing a deepening financial crisis after international donors cut off aid because of its refusal to renounce violence and to recognize Israel's right to exist.

Meanwhile, Israel says two top officials will meet with Mr. Abbas at an economic forum Sunday in Egypt. It will be the highest-level meeting between Israeli and Palestinian officials since the militant group Hamas won elections in January.

The high-level meeting comes as Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert travels to Washington for talks with President Bush Tuesday.

Mr. Olmert is expected to seek Mr. Bush's support for his plan to implement a partial withdrawal from the West Bank and set Israel's borders, with or without agreement from the Palestinians.

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