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Arab states vow to probe Palestinian violence

world Updated: Jun 16, 2007 09:27 IST

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Arab foreign ministers decided following crisis talks to set up a commission to investigate the deadly dispute dividing the Palestinian territories after Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip.

The commission, which includes key regional power players Egypt and Saudi Arabia, will "submit a report on the situation in less than a month," according to a statement issued after their meeting ended early on Saturday.

Egyptian and Saudi leaders have been involved in trying to smooth differences between the secular Fatah movement of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas and the Islamist Hamas, which rose to power in 2006 elections.

A deal for a power-sharing government was brokered earlier this year in the Saudi holy city of Mecca, but Abbas dissolved the three-month old unity cabinet Thursday as Hamas gunmen seized control of Gaza, leaving Abbas and his Fatah movement based in the occupied West Bank.

The Arab foreign ministers condemned "the criminal acts" in Gaza and called for a "return to the situation before the incidents."

They stressed "the need to respect the legitimacy of the Palestinian nation headed by Mahmud Abbas and respect elected institutions, including the Legislative Council" where Hamas has a majority.