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Tensions Rise in Gaza After Hamas Redeploys Militia

  • VOA News

Tensions have risen in the Gaza Strip after the Hamas-led Palestinian government returned some members of its controversial militia to the streets.

Friday the militant group had withdrawn the three-thousand member militia from Gaza following Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' threat to hold a national referendum on a negotiated peace with Israel.

Mr. Abbas said if Hamas does not accept a two-state solution within 10 days, he would call what would amount to a vote of confidence for the newly-elected Hamas government.

A Hamas spokesman, however, said the group will not be bound by the deadline, although it is ready to discuss the plan.

Mr. Abbas believes a referendum, in which a majority of Palestinians are expected to approve the two-state idea, could enable Hamas to moderate its views without directly recognizing Israel. That, in turn, could help end the international sanctions that have crippled the Hamas government and the Palestinian economy.

But a two-state solution directly contradicts Hamas' ideology. The group says it has no intention of amending its charter, which calls for the destruction of Israel.

Israel has not responded to the plan proposed by Mr. Abbas and has vowed to unilaterally set its borders unless peace talks resume within months.

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