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Haniya, Abbas agree to pull back forces

Story Highlights

• Rival Palestinian leaders Haniya, Abbas meet amid factional infighting
• Haniya says the two are appealing for calm to end a cycle of violence
• Skirmishes between Fatah, Hamas backers in Gaza left three dead
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GAZA CITY (CNN) -- Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniya and President Mahmoud Abbas met early Friday and agreed to withdraw armed militants from the streets, Haniya said.

The prime minister said at a news conference that the two leaders were appealing for calm to end a cycle of violent clashes between the Hamas faction, led by Haniya, and Abbas' Fatah faction. Abbas did not attend the news conference.

Haniya listed several points of agreement between the two men, including "rejecting the use of violence in resolving our internal issues and condemning anyone who advocates violence," and "withdrawing all militants from the streets and dispatching the police force in order to maintain order and security."

The prime minister also said the two agreed to form an independent judicial committee to investigate the rash of violence between the two factions.

"We hope that everyone will listen to this call," Haniya said. "Our people are bigger than these incidents, these events. The blood is our blood at the end; the youth is our youth. All of us, at the end of the day, they are all Palestinians."

On Thursday, infighting in ongoing skirmishes between Fatah and Hamas supporters in Gaza killed three Palestinians, Palestinian security sources said. Two of the dead were from Fatah and one was from Hamas.

Palestinian intelligence service sources said one of the Fatah loyalists killed was a senior officer. His wife was also injured in a rocket attack on his home, the sources said.

Eight others were wounded in those battles, Palestinian security sources said.

Also Thursday, four Palestinians were killed and 25 wounded, including two journalists, during an Israeli military operation in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

Abbas' power struggle with Hamas turned violent last month after he declared that efforts to form a more moderate coalition government with the militantly anti-Israel Islamic group had broken down.

Abbas had hoped a more moderate coalition between Hamas and his Fatah would allow the West to resume desperately needed aid, which was cut off to pressure the Hamas government to recognize Israel and renounce violence.


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In this handout from the Palestinian Press Office, PM Ismail Haniya, left, and President Mahmoud Abbas meet in Gaza City.

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