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Abbas convenes Palestinian leaders after Obama speech

Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas called an "urgent" leadership meeting on Thursday to examine US President Barack Obama's Middle East policy speech, an aide said.

world Updated: May 20, 2011 01:40 IST

Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas called an "urgent" leadership meeting on Thursday to examine US President Barack Obama's Middle East policy speech, an aide said.

But his tentative partners in the Islamist Hamas movement immediately called on Obama to take "concrete steps" not merely issue "slogans" in support of Palestinian independence and an end to Israeli occupation.

In a key speech at the State Department in Washington, Obama called for a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders but said a Palestinian bid for UN recognition of a unilateral proclamation of statehood would not work.

"President Abbas decided to call the Palestinian leadership to an urgent meeting as soon as possible and consult with the Arab brothers to discuss US President Barack Obama's speech," senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told reporters shortly after the speech.

Erekat said the Palestinians remained committed to all previous agreements with Israel, "hoping that the Israeli government will do the same, to give the peace process the chance it deserves."

The Hamas movement, which rules the Gaza Strip and this month signed a surprise unity agreement with Abbas's Fatah party, took a less cautious approach, responding immediately to Obama's address.

"What Obama needs to do is not to add slogans but to take concrete steps to protect the rights of the Palestinian people and the Arab nation," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said.