Hamas is to hand in weapons after July 17 elections

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said Monday he expects Hamas to hand in its weapons after Palestinian elections this summer, but he stopped short of threatening to disarm the Islamic militants by force.

A Hamas official dismissed the call, saying Abbas should first disarm his own &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/hotspots/2001/08/27/13488.html ' target=_blank>Fatah movement.

In violence Monday, Israeli soldiers shot and killed a Palestinian taxi driver after his vehicle ran over and killed an Israeli at a roadblock near the West Bank city of Hebron, rescue workers said. Israeli security officials said it appeared to be a deliberate attempt to hit the Israeli. Palestinians said the driver had no political ties, and the roadblock was not a permanent fixture, indicating the hit and run was an accident.

Abbas has been under pressure from the United States and Israel to rein in armed groups, as called for in the internationally backed "road map" peace plan. While repeatedly calling on militants to halt their attacks on Israel, Abbas has refused to take action against them, preferring instead to negotiate.

Hamas has said it will take part in &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/politics/2002/03/10/26897.html ' target=_blank>legislative elections set for July 17. It would be the first time the group has sought a place in the Palestinian parliament, reports ABC News.

A Hamas spokesman, Sami Abu Zuhri, said the group would give up its weapons when Israel ends its occupation of Palestinian areas.

Hamas previously refused to take part in parliamentary or presidential elections for the Palestinian Authority, which was created under a 1993 interim peace agreement with Israel. The group, which has carried out many suicide bombings and calls for the destruction of Israel, had consistently refused to participate within the Palestinian Authority.

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