Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met on Tuesday with the head of Hamas' political bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, in Algeria, the first such meeting between the two in 15 years.
Earlier, Palestinian Authority sources said that preparations were being made for the meeting, adding that promoting a unified Palestinian government that includes both Abbas’ Fatah party and Hamas is on the agenda. The effort is being made in the hopes that it would pave the way for general elections in the Palestinian Authority.
The formal split between the Palestinian Authority, which controls much of the West Bank, and Hamas, the Islamist group that administers the Gaza Strip, dates back to Hamas’ violent takeover of the Strip from the Palestinian Authority in 2007 following Fatah’s loss in parliamentary elections a year before.
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Both Abbas and Haniyeh are in Algeria for that country’s Independence Day celebrations, and according to the sources, the Algerians pressed for the meeting. It was also attended by other senior officials from the two sides, including the PA’s intelligence chief, Majed Faraj, and the PA's deputy prime minister, Ziad Abu Amr.