Abbas, Hamas Leaders Hold First Talks in Two Years to Discuss Palestinian Unity

Palestinians have been split into two political entities since 2007, when following an election Fatah remained in control in the West Bank and Hamas seized control of Gaza.

Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury
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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Hamas political chief Khaled Meshal and his deputy Ismail Haniyeh in Qatar capital Doha, October 27, 2016.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Hamas political chief Khaled Meshal and his deputy Ismail Haniyeh in Qatar capital Doha, October 27, 2016.Credit: WAFA news agency
Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met with Hamas political chief Khaled Meshal and his deputy Ismail Haniyeh in the Qatari capital of Doha on Thursday. The three discussed possibilities to heal a decade old political.

The leaders, meeting for the first time in two years, discussed steps to bring about Palestinian unity. Fatah and the Palestinian Authority government were ousted from the Gaza Strip by Hamas in 2007 after parliamentary elections the year before that Fatah lost, creating the current split.

Qatari Minister of Foreign Affairs Khalid bin Mohammad Al Attiyah attended the meeting.

Since 2007, there have been repeated attempts at reconciliation, including the signing of formal agreements between the two sides in Mecca, Cairo and Doha, but they were never implemented.

Abbas arrived in Doha after talks in Turkey with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. In Doha he also met with the Qatar's emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.

In his talks with Hamas, the Palestinian news agency said that Abbas spoke about an urgent need to reconcile and remove all the reasons for the rift by establishing a national unity government and preparing for parliamentary and presidential elections.

Both sides agreed that reconciliation was a central goal of the Palestinian national project as well as thwarting Israeli policies hurting the prospects of achieving a two-state solution.

Reports said the men decided to continue these contacts and sources close to Abbas did not rule out the possibility he would seek to reshuffle his cabinet in coordination with Hamas, in the near future.

Senior Palestinian officials told Haartz that the meeting was the start of a new reconciliation process and that no substantial progress had been achieved to declare intent to establish a new government that would control both the West Bank and Gaza.

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