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      New Middle East: Jordan to Welcome Hamas Leader Mashaal

      Jordan continues to neutralize its peace treaty with Israel and warms up to Hamas, whose leader Khaled Mashaal is to visit King Abdullah.
      By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
      First Publish: 1/24/2012, 9:05 AM

      Jordan continues to neutralize its peace treaty with Israel and warms up to Hamas, whose leader Khaled Mashaal is to visit King Abdullah on Sunday escorted by the Qatari crown prince, according to Palestinian Authority and other Arab news agencies.

      Mashaal and Qatar’s Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Than are scheduled to meet with King Abdullah II in a visit that originally was planned for last November, but was scrapped because of Israel and American pressure.

      The arrival of Mashaal at the monarch’s palace signals a renewal of political ties between the terrorist organization and Jordan, which expelled Mashaal and his aides in 1999. He has headquartered Hamas in Damascus, but has been looking for a new home in the midst of the rebellion against Syrian President Bashar Assad.

      Iran, Assad’s key ally, is furious at Hamas for not coming out in support of Assad.

      Besides visiting Jordan, Mashaal’s off-and-on trip to Gaza is back on the agenda, and he may even be accompanied by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, according to the London-based Al Hayat newspaper. If the report is true, it would represent a dramatic move in the unity efforts by Hamas and its rival Fatah faction, headquartered in Ramallah and headed by Abbas.

      Al Hayat stated, “Mashaal wishes to visit the Gaza Strip together with Abbas and not alone. He wishes to demonstrate, through the visit, the need for serious efforts to end the power struggle between Hamas and Fatah.” The Palestinian Authority has not confirmed the report, and Hamas sources said that such a visit is not planned in the near future.