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Jordan: Hamas Offices to Remain Closed

A senior Jordanian official says that the meeting between Hamas and King Abdullah II will not affect the ban on the terror group in Jordan.
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 1/30/2012, 8:12 PM

King Abdullah of Jordan
King Abdullah of Jordan
Agencia Brasil

Monday's high-profile meeting between Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashaal and King Abdullah II of Jordan will not result in Amman's ban on the terror group being lifted, a senior official says.

The meeting "will only break the ice, following years of estrangement," the official told Gulf News, but "Hamas will not be allowed to reopen its offices in Jordan."

Mashaal's visit is a part of Jordan's push to engage previously shunned Islamist groups who have gained significant ground in the so-called 'Arab Spring' revolutions.

The exiled Hamas leader holds a Jordanian passport, but the kingdom expelled him and four other Hamas leaders in 1999 for "illicit and harmful" activities, forcing Mashaal to establish his headquarters in Syria.

With the harsh Syrian government crackdown on protesters — including some Hamas and PFLP affiliated terrorists in Syria — Mashaal is looking for a new base of operations.

But Jordan has said, while they are willing to host Hamas members, they may not pursue political or terror activities in the kingdom.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Mashaal said Hamas was eager to develop "close and unique relations" with Jordan.

"Hamas also cares for Jordan's security and stability," he added, distancing himself from Islamists who have sought to destabilize Jordan's monarchy.

Mashaal also took the opportunity to criticize Israel saying, "Hamas stands firm against Israel's schemes to turn Jordan into a substitute homeland. Jordan is Jordan and Palestine is Palestine."

The comment was a clear nod to King Abdullah whose reign has been marked by a stark departure from the "Jordan is Palestine" formula of his father and grandfather.    

Monday's meeting was arranged by the crown prince of Qatar, who is aiding Hamas in finding a new home.

Jordan, a key US Mideast ally, made peace with Israel in 1994 and is viewed by Washington as a potential mediator between Israel, Hamas, and the Palestinian Authority.