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Mashaal Meets Jordan's King to Discuss Reconciliation with Fatah

"The international community must respect Palestinian need to end division," Hamas chief tells Jordan's King in Amman.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 1/29/2013, 6:46 AM

Jordan's King Abdullah meets Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal at the Royal Palace in Amman
Jordan's King Abdullah meets Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal at the Royal Palace in Amman
Reuters

Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal said on Monday that the world "must respect" the reconciliation talks between his group and rival Fatah, AFP reported.

The comments were made after Mashaal held a meeting with King Abdullah II in Jordan.

“I am optimistic about the Palestinian reconciliation. The international community must respect Palestinian need to end division," Mashaal was quoted as saying in a palace statement after meeting the king in Amman.

“We have made excellent steps in the reconciliation talks in Egypt,” he said of long-running talks between Hamas and the rival Fatah faction of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

Earlier this month, Mashaal and Abbas agreed in Cairo to expedite a stalled reconciliation deal between their groups.

Mashaal and Abbas focused on implementing the Egypt-brokered April 2011 unity agreement aimed at ending years of infighting that was signed in May that year, but whose main provisions have yet to be put into practice.

The two sides' rivalry exploded into violence in June of 2007, when Hamas forces seized control of Gaza in a bloody coup.

“Supporting reconciliation efforts is the basis for Palestinian unity which will help the Palestinians restore their rights,” the king told Mashaal, according to AFP.

“A two-state solution is the only means to achieve security and stability in the Middle East,” he added.

Relations between Hamas and Amman have been strained since 1999 when Jordanian authorities expelled Mashaal and three other Hamas members after the group was accused of threatening the kingdom's security and stability.

Nevertheless, Mashaal visited Jordan twice last year. In late January of last year, King Abdullah welcomed Mashaal at his palace in Amman, more than a decade after he was expelled from the kingdom.

Last June, a senior delegation from Hamas, led by Mashaal, made an official visit to Amman. Rapprochement with Hamas is a part of the Hashemite Kingdom's diplomatic shift in response to the so-called Arab Spring that has rocked the Middle East and toppled several Arab governments.

Nevertheless, a senior official in Jordan said last year that the high-profile meeting between Mashaal and King Abdullah will not result in Amman's ban on the terror group being lifted and Hamas will not be allowed to reopen its offices in Jordan.

Hamas has an interest in getting closer to Jordan because of its rift with Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad. As the uprising against Assad gained strength, reports surfaced that Hamas is moving its headquarters from Damascus.

Some reports claimed that the Damascus-based Hamas leadership left Syria because the Syrian government asked the Hamas leaders to leave. Last November, Syrian security forces shut down all the offices belonging to Hamas in the country.

The rift is due to the fact that Hamas’s parent movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, supports the Syrian rebels and not Assad. Iran's proxy, Hizbullah, on the other hand, supports Assad.