Cease-fire, statehood on table in Mideast talks
'Prisoners' plan' calls for state of Palestine alongside Israel
Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, left, and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas meet Saturday.
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JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas urged Hamas on Saturday to renew its cease-fire with Israel, saying it would remove any "pretext" for the Israeli military to continue bombing Palestinian targets, a spokesman for Abbas said.
Hamas' military wing called off its 16-month-old cease-fire after blaming Israel for the June 9 explosion on a Gaza beach where Palestinians were picnicking. Eight Palestinians were killed. Israel denied responsibility for after initially apologizing for shelling the beach.
Since then, there has been an escalation in violence in the region, with Palestinians firing rockets into Israel and Israel retaliating by bombing Palestinian targets.
"The president insisted that the truce should be sustained and the rockets should be stopped immediately so that we cannot give Israel any pretext to continue their escalation toward the Palestinian people," Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh told reporters. The statement came after a late-night meeting between Abbas and Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh.
The leaders are scheduled to resume talks Sunday.
"There is a good opportunity that we might achieve positive things in the coming days," Rudeineh said. "The dialogue will continue."
The day before the beach incident, the Hamas-led Palestinian government offered to renew the cease-fire if Israel halted its "aggression."
At the time, Hamas spokesman Ghazi Hamad said his group was willing to discuss a truce with other Palestinian factions to stop the firing of rockets from Gaza into Israel.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has vowed to continue strikes against Palestinian militants despite apologizing twice for the growing number of civilian casualties resulting from Israel's airstrikes on Gaza. (Full story)
Abbas and Haniyeh also were to discuss a proposal drafted by Palestinian leaders imprisoned in Israeli jails that would establish a Palestinian state alongside Israel -- a plan Hamas has rejected.
Abbas, who supports the "prisoners' plan" and wants Hamas to accept it, has scheduled a July 26 referendum on the plan if an agreement is not reached.
Hamas has refused to support the proposal that Palestine be made up of the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem within the borders that existed before the 1967 war with Israel.
Hamas says it would require the group to recognize a state of Israel, and Hamas' charter calls for the destruction of the Jewish state.
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