Factional differences

Abbas has repeatedly called for a national unity government to be set up so that fresh Palestinian elections can be held.

The president has also said that unity between Hamas and Fatah will speed the rebuilding of the Gaza Strip after Israel’s 22-day war on the territory, in which more than 1,300 Palestinians were killed.

Hamas, however, has refused to agree to Fatah's call for it to observe interim peace agreements that Fatah has signed with Israel.

Ayman Taha, a senior Hamas official, said the organisation would work to ensure that fresh talks succeed, but said it would not observe peace agreements with Israel.

"Abiding by peace agreements means the recognition of Israel and that is completely rejected," Taha said.

The relationship between Fatah and Hamas has deteriorated since Hamas won a Palestinian general election in 2006.

The group seized power in the Gaza Strip in June 2007 after routing security forces loyal to Fatah, and has maintained control of the territory since.

Fatah has maintained a strong presence in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, which is home to about 1.4 million Palestinians.