Abbas ready to visit Gaza Strip

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The Independent Online

The Palestinian President has offered to visit the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip for the first time in four years to try to help reunite the rival Palestinian governments.

Mahmoud Abbas also declared that he would not run for re-election in voting called for later this year. On Tuesday, Gaza's Prime Minister, Ismail Haniyeh, had invited Mr Abbas to visit following parallel rallies in Gaza and the West Bank urging the rival Palestinian leaderships to reunite.

The next day, the Palestinian leader announced that he would be prepared to make the trip within the coming week. "I am ready to go to Gaza tomorrow so as to end the split and form a new government," Mr Abbas said in a speech before senior members of his Fatah party.

He urged Mr Haniyeh to make arrangements so he could arrive within the next two to four days "so we can end this dark and dishonourable chapter of division".