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OPT: Mubarak - Fatah, Hamas will solve their differences soon

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Jerusalem_(dpa) _ President Hosny Mubarak said in an interview to Israel Television Tuesday that the situation in the Palestinian territories requires a "cooling off" period, after which the rival Hamas and Fatah factions will resolve their differences through dialogue.

Mubarak said Egypt would be willing to play the role of mediator between the sides, even though the dialogue is an internal Palestinian matter.

Mubarak said the events in Gaza have "regional" implications and that Egypt would not allow radical Islamic groups to stabilize themselves in the country.

The Egyptian president called recent events in the Gaza Strip, namely Hamas' forcible takeover of the area, "regrettable."

"We must find a way to advance the peace process," he said, later adding that the events in Gaza should not affect the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, which should be conducted through the Palestine Liberation Organization and President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah.

In his "personal opinion," Hamas did not intend to take over Gaza, but things got "out of control," ending in its assumption of power, Mubarak said.

In a speech last week, Mubarak termed the Hamas takeover a "coup."

In the interview, which took place in Egypt, the president said "legitimate rule," implying that of Abbas, will return to the Gaza Strip.

"We have no choice" on the matter, he said, adding that the current situation is temporary, and Gaza and the West Bank will become one unit in the near future.

Regarding humanitarian aid, he said basic supplies to the people in Gaza must not be dependant on political developments, noting that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert committed himself to assuring that aid reached the enclave.

Mubarak also praised Olmert's willingness to release prisoners. Olmert had said during Monday's four-way summit in Sharm el-Sheikh that he would work to release 250 Palestinians held in Israeli jails.

In regards to the Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, now held captive by militants in Gaza for over a year, Mubarak said Egypt will continue to work for his freedom, as well as the release of Palestinian prisoners.

On Monday, Mubarak hosted a four-way summit, also attended by Abbas, Olmert and King Abdullah II of Jordan. The parley was aimed at jump-starting the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and boosting Abbas and his new emergency government, formed after the Hamas takeover of Gaza. dpa sg aw

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