Hamas, Fatah vow peaceful end to Palestinian problems

Leaders of Palestinian factions including rivals Fatah and Hamas pledged on Tuesday to refrain from violence in settling Palestinian problems after a firefight between Hamas activists and Palestinian police left three dead.

Farouk Kaddoumi, a leader of Fatah - the ruling faction of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said the exiled leaders of Palestinian groups agreed in Damascus that dialogue should be the only way to solve their disputes.

Listing the decisions of their meetings, Kaddoumi said the leaders agreed to "call all Palestinian powers and factions to ban the use of weapons to solve internal differences".

Kaddoumi pointed out that the leaders also agreed to "refrain from all forms political and media provocations that can harm the interests of our people and their national unity".

According to reports, On Sunday a Palestinian police commander and two civilian bystanders were killed in firefights between policemen and Hamas gunmen. Fifty people were wounded when militants tried to storm a police station shortly afterwards.

Palestinian police said Sunday's fighting began when a Gaza police patrol pulled over a carload of Hamas gunmen who were flouting a new ban on the public display of weapons agreed to by political leaders of the various militant factions.

Hamas has said the militants fought police on Sunday "solely in self-defence" and they also acted to protect homes of Hamas political leaders that came under gunfire from policemen.

Shortly after the clash Palestinian policemen stormed into Gaza's parliament building to demand a crackdown on militants, and deputies called on Abbas to sack the cabinet for failing to stamp out chaos in the streets, Reuters reports.

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