Hamas rulers of Gaza Strip on Tuesday called for a "national dialogue" with their vanquished Fatah foes in a step likely made to prevent growing international isolation.
Hamas made the gesture days after defeating Fatah forces and seizing control of Gaza. The rift has left the Palestinians with two rival governments - a Western-backed Cabinet loyal to Fatah in the West Bank and the Hamas rulers of Gaza. The international community has embraced the West Bank government, led by President Mahmoud Abbas, while the Islamic militant Hamas has been largely shunned.
"We are shocked and surprised by the voices forbidding discussions with us, while they enter discussions with Israel," Khalil al-Haya, a prominent Hamas lawmaker, said at a news conference. "We are still prepared for a brotherly serious and responsible national dialogue."
Al-Haya spoke as the Hamas Cabinet was holding its first meeting since the group took control of Gaza. Both governments claim to represent all Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.