In another sign of increasing collaboration between the rival Hamas and Fatah factions, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas met with Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashaal in Cairo on Wednesday.
Senior Abbas aide Nabil Abu Rudeineh said the two leaders had a lengthy meeting in a “positive atmosphere.” Abbas plans to call upon all Palestinian factions to hold a larger meeting in Cairo at a later date to discuss reconciliation, according to reports.
Rudeineh said there was an agreement to hold more Fatah-Hamas meetings, but declined to give details.
The two Palestinian groups have been at odds since the terrorist group Hamas overran the Gaza Strip in 2007, ousting forces from Abbas’s Fatah. Since then, Abbas has ruled in the West Bank, and Hamas has held sway in Gaza. But recently, the groups showed signs of warming up to each other by holding rallies in each others’ territory for the first time since 2007.
Also on Wednesday, Abbas and Mashaal reportedly held talks individually with Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, who hails from the Muslim Brotherhood, the fundamentalist Islamist group that is the parent organization of Hamas. Egypt’s efforts in this regard stem from its goal “to contribute to the fight against Israel in any way possible and to force Israel to revoke its peace treaty with Egypt, while still appearing to contribute to peace and stability in the region (to avoid losing American financial and military aid),” Professor Alexander Bligh of Ariel University wrote in an oped for Israel Hayom.
According to Bligh, Hamas “likely demanded one of two things as a jumping off point for reconciliation talks: A violent, armed intifada against Israel, which would shake up the West Bank and cement a new Palestinian hierarchy, or alternately, to nominate Khaled Mashaal, Hamas designated leader, as the presidential candidate to vie for Abbas’s seat in the Palestinian Authority presidential election.”