[PMC is an official PNA Web site]
Palestine Media Center-PMC
President Mahmoud Abbas assured tens of thousands of supporters Thursday that he is determined to prevent further factional clashes with rival Hamas after weeks of internecine bloodshed.
"The priority for me is preserving national unity and preventing and prohibiting internal fighting," Abbas told supporters of his Fatah movement. "Palestinian blood is a red line."
Abbas did not say how he would stop the bloodshed.
Abbas rebuked armed supporters who showed their backing for the moderate leader by pumping bullets into the sky.
"Gunfire into the air is forbidden. Gunfire against the friend, the neighbor and members of other factions is forbidden too," Abbas said.
Without mentioning Hamas by name, Abbas said the response to his election call last month was violence, and said those opposed to new polls should challenge the decision in the courts, not in the streets.
Tens of thousands of Fatah supporters waved Palestinian flags and yellow Fatah banners as they gathered in chilly temperatures under sunny skies, in a show of strength.
Several Fatah activists briefly carried Abbas on their shoulders. "Go, go, until liberation," they chanted.
Thirty-five people have been killed in several weeks of fighting between armed security forces loyal to Fatah or Hamas.
Abbas aides said the Palestinian leader would give coalition talks with Hamas another chance. Negotiations on bringing Fatah into the Cabinet are to resume soon and continue for two weeks, said Rafiq Husseini, a senior Abbas aide. If the talks fail, he said, Abbas would proceed with his plan to call early elections.
In his speech, Abbas did not make clear whether he was still determined to go ahead with early elections to resolve the problem of the divided Palestinian government and made no reference to a resumption of coalition talks.
In condemning factional fighting, Abbas said: "We had pointed our guns against the [Israeli] occupation, and that is a legitimate right, but when the guns are turned against each other, that is forbidden."
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