Sweden: ‘Palestinian accord part of process’

Sweden's prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt urged national reconciliation between the two main Palestinian factions, Hamas and Fatah, when he met Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas on Wednesday.

Fredrik Reinfeldt said Sweden, which takes over the rotating presidency of the European Union on July 1st, wants to help politically in the process of possibly holding new elections in the Palestinian territories.

“Reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas is also a part of the process,” said Reinfeldt, urging the two Palestinian factions to put aside their rivalry.

Abbas, whose Fatah faction controls the West Bank while the Islamist Hamas movement runs the Gaza Strip, is currently in Sweden as part of his tour of

European capitals.

Last month Abbas proposed forming a national unity government with Hamas which would involve holding legislative and presidential elections in the Palestinian territories.

Abbas maintains that unity is necessary to rebuild Gaza after a devastating 22-day Israeli offensive, launched in response to militant rocket fire against southern Israel. More than 1,300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed in the onslaught.

An international donors’ conference to help rebuild Gaza will be held on Monday in Egypt.

“Of course the situation in Gaza worries the Swedish government,” said Reinfeldt. “The conference on Monday is hopefully an important part of the international reconstruction.”

He said that Sweden would contribute to the reconstruction but did not specify the amount of money Stockholm was prepared to give the effort.

Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad on Wednesday said they were seeking 2.8 billion dollars in aid from donor countries.

Media reports on Wednesday indicated that US president Barack Obama has pledged $900 million in aid to the reconstruction of bomb damaged Gaza.

Also on Wednesday, representatives of Fatah and Hamas met in Cairo to try to ease tensions ahead of the formal opening of Egypt-brokered talks on Thursday aimed at paving the way for a unity government.