Palestinians take step toward unity - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Palestinians take step toward unity

RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) -- For the first time since rival Palestinian governments were set up in the West Bank and Gaza in 2007, reconciliation appears to be within reach.

After months of wavering, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has agreed to a deal under which he will head an interim unity government, to prepare for general elections in the Palestinian territories in the coming months.

The deal was signed today in Qatar by Abbas and by Hamas chief Khaled. It puts an end to the recent efforts by the international community to revive the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians on the terms of Palestinian statehood.

Israel's prime minister, in a warning to Abbas, says he has to choose between peace with Israel and peace with Hamas.

Abbas has enjoyed broad international support, while Hamas has been shunned by the West as a terror group.

The State Department says the U.S. is looking for more information about the agreement. A spokeswoman says what matters is whether a Palestinian government is able to "play a constructive role for peace and building an independent state."

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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