Abbas Would Give Up US Aid for Palestinian Unity

By Staff | March 28, 2011 | 4:59 PM EDT

Ramallah, West Bank (AP) - An aide to the Palestinian president says Mahmoud Abbas is making a heavy push for reconciliation with Hamas and is willing to give up hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. aid if that's what it takes to forge a Palestinian unity deal.

The comments by Azzam Ahmed indicate that Abbas may be giving up on stalled peace talks with Israel and prefers to pursue unity with Gaza's Hamas rulers in a push toward independence.

The sides have been divided since Hamas overran the Gaza Strip in 2007, expelling forces loyal to Abbas.

Ahmad said Monday the Palestinians need American money, "but if they use it as a way of pressuring us, we are ready to relinquish that aid," he said.

The U.S. and Israel consider Hamas a terrorist group.