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Hamas, Fatah Agree to End Violence
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The ruling Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) and the Fatah movement agreed on Monday to end violence between supporters of the two groups and settle their differences through dialogue.

Officials from the two groups signed an agreement named the "Document of Honor and National Oath" in the West Bank city of Ramallah, calling for followers to boost social security and avoid clashes.

Loyalists to the once-dominant Fatah and militants of Hamas have confronted against each other over the dispute on the control of the security forces. Over a dozen people have been killed in the violence during the past month.

Hamas took the reins of the Palestinian government in late March after defeating Fatah in the January legislative elections.

But most of the regular security forces are Fatah supporters and Abbas has appointed a close ally to head the security forces and reinforced his elite troops in the Gaza Strip.

Tensions have mounted since President Mahmoud Abbas, who is also Fatah's chairman, issued a presidential decree to call for a referendum on a proposal seeking a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

Hamas' charter formally calls for Israel's destruct. The group has so far refused to renounce violence, recognize Israel's right to exist and accept previous Palestinian-Israeli agreements.

Fatah, once long dominant on the Palestinian political arena, has supported a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and espoused negotiations with the Jewish state.

(Xinhua News Agency June 20, 2006)


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