Abbas, Hamas Chief Hold First Talks Since Unity Deal

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas held “positive” talks with Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal in Doha Monday in the first meeting since their rival movements signed a surprise unity deal last month.

“Abbas and Meshaal held a long meeting this afternoon in Doha to discuss the latest Palestinian developments, including the reconciliation agreement and creating a positive atmosphere in which to achieve it,” a Hamas statement said.

“The meeting was positive, with both leaders expressing a serious willingness to turn over a new leaf, based on national partnership,” it added.

Palestinian leader Abbas flew to the Qatari capital on Sunday to meet emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani early Monday before attending a family wedding, a senior Palestinian official told AFP.

He then met the exiled Hamas leader, who has been based in Doha for more than two years after leaving his previous base in Damascus because of the bloodshed gripping Syria.

The last time the two leaders met face-to-face was in Cairo in January 2013.

Abbas’s Fatah movement, which dominates the Palestine Liberation Organization and rules the West Bank, has been locked in years of bitter rivalry with Meshaal’s Hamas since the Islamist movement forcibly took over the Gaza Strip in 2007, ousting forces loyal to the president.

Earlier efforts to broker a political reconciliation have failed, but on 23 April, the PLO and Hamas announced they had reached a deal under which they would work together to form a new government of political independents.

Hamas said it might incorporate some 3,000 members of the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority’s security forces to help policing in Gaza on a temporary basis.

“There is a clause addressing the security situation, including… administrative arrangements for 3,000 members of Ramallah’s security apparatus to work as part of Gaza security,” Hamas government secretary Abdel Salam Siyyam said in a statement on Sunday.

He said the move would be for an “interim period”, without saying how long it would be.

(Middle East Eye – www.middleeasteye.net)

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