Fatah rules out Hamas peace talks

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RAMALLAH, West Bank, Oct 11 (Reuters) Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah faction ruled out talks with Hamas today, while Israel said any such dialogue with the Islamists could ''torpedo'' a peace deal with the Jewish state.

Palestinian sources familiar with the matter said members of Hamas and Fatah had discussed holding peace talks, but Fatah leaders said they had not backed any meeting and rejected dialogue with Hamas unless it cedes control of the Gaza Strip, which it seized in fighting with Abbas's forces in June.

''What happened in Gaza was a military coup againstlegitimacy and against democracy,'' Abdallah Franji, who is close to Abbas and a member of Fatah's central committee, told Reuters. ''If they retreat then we can talk. Now we cannot.'' Abbas dismissed the Hamas-led Palestinian government in June after the violence in Gaza. This led to an easing of US and Israeli sanctions and plans for a peace conference next month.

Reuters AE GC1655

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