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Hamas accuses Abbas of locking its leaders in Gaza
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A Hamas leader on Monday accused Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of working to keep the leaders of the Islamic movement locked in the Gaza Strip.

"Abbas doesn't want to open the Rafah crossing point, to prevent Hamas leaders from leaving and coming to the Gaza Strip," Mahmoud Zahar told a press conference at his house in Gaza city, referring to the crossing point with Egypt.

"I challenge that he (Abbas) can not announce his intention to open the crossing," Zahar said. "We want to open the crossing, so Hamas leaders and people can leave to accomplish our national interests."

Israel and Egypt maintained the closure of their borders with the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip since the Islamic movement routed pro-Abbas forces and seized the territory in June 2007.

Zahar's statements are part of a media campaign Hamas launched against the leader of its rival Fatah movement, which became more fierce after an Egyptian initiative to reconcile the two movements failed.

Hamas boycotted the Egyptian-hosted dialogue which was due to start early this month, citing the continuation of a Fatah-led clampdown against its members in the West Bank. Abbas accused Hamas of blocking the dialogue.

On Sunday, the Palestinian Central Council elected Abbas as president of a future Palestinian statehood, a move rejected by Hamas which vowed not to recognize Abbas as president after his term ends in January 2009.

(Xinhua News Agency November 24, 2008)

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