Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has called for the speedy creation of an independent Palestinian state with the capital in East Jerusalem and pledged to do his best to unite the Palestinians. "We cannot allow the peace process to make no headway, progress to give way to failures, and tensions to follow relaxation," Mubarak said in his speech in Cairo dedicated to the Muslim holiday of Laylat al-Qadr (Night of Determination). Direct talks between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu resumed on September 2 in Washington, after an almost two-year hiatus, with the two leaders expressing their readiness to search for a compromise to achieve long-awaited peace in the region. Egypt is a key regional mediator in the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Mubarak said in his speech that the Palestinian people suffer not only from Israeli occupation, but also from continuing infighting between Palestinian political leaders. The two largest Palestinian factions, Hamas and Fatah, split in June 2007, some 18 months after Hamas won Palestinian parliamentary elections in 2006. In the ensuing armed clashes between the two rival parties, Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip and pushed the ruling Fatah movement out of the enclave. Hamas, which has refused to recognize Israel's right to exist, has denounced the resumption of peace negotiations. "Egypt is full of determination to continue efforts to revive the peace process and achieve the Palestinian unity," Mubarak said. Abbas and Netanyahu have pledged to complete negotiations on the core issues of the Middle East peace process within one year. These issues are settlement construction, the status of East Jerusalem, Israel's demand for recognition as a Jewish state, the issue of Palestinian refugees and the final borders of a future Palestinian state. During the meeting in Washington, the Israeli and Palestinian leaders agreed to maintain regular contacts, with the next round scheduled to take place on September 14 in the Egyptian resort city of Sharm El Sheikh. Israeli-Palestinian direct peace talks came to a halt in December 2008, when Israel launched an attack on the Gaza Strip in a bid to put an end to the firing of homemade rockets at southern Israel by Palestinian militants based in the enclave. The conflict left 1,300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis dead.