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Abbas, Mashaal to Agree on Unity Government

PA Chairman Abbas and Hamas chief Mashaal will agree on a national unity government this Thursday, says senior Fatah official.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 2/1/2012, 6:15 AM

PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas
PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas
Flash 90

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas’ politburo chief Khaled Mashaal are expected to agree on the structure of a national unity government during their meeting in Amman this Thursday, a senior Fatah official told the Bethlehem-based Ma’an news agency on Tuesday.

The Secretary-General of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, Amin Maqboul, told Ma’an that failure to appoint a new government was the main obstacle to elections.

Fatah and Hamas signed a reconciliation deal last May last year to end four years of hostilities after Hamas violently took control of Gaza in 2007. The deal set out a path to elections within a year and the appointment of an interim government, but the parties could not agree on a candidate to lead the unity government.

A much ballyhooed announcement by the two sides that Hamas would join the PLO has also failed to bear fruit, and both sides admitted last week that elections in May are unlikely.

Maqboul confirmed to Ma'an that the Central Elections Commission has ruled out the possibility that elections will be held as scheduled.

Abbas and Mashaal’s meeting in Jordan comes following Mashaal’s meeting with Jordan’s King Abdullah II, in his first visit to the country since being expelled in 1999.

A senior Jordanian official said on Monday that despite the high-profile meeting between Mashaal and the king, Amman's ban on the terror group will not be lifted. The official added that "Hamas will not be allowed to reopen its offices in Jordan."

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 Syrian government’s crackdown on protesters, however, Mashaal has reportedly abandoned the terror group’s offices in Damascus and is looking for a new base of operations.