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Abbas and Mashaal Hold Second Day of Talks in Qatar

Palestinian Authority and Hamas leaders hold second meeting in as many days, as Hamas reportedly backtracks on talks rejection.
By Ari Soffer and AFP
First Publish: 8/22/2014, 3:42 PM

Khaled Mashaal and Mahmoud Abbas
Khaled Mashaal and Mahmoud Abbas
Flash 90

Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas and exiled Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal held a second day of talks in Qatar on Friday, a Palestinian source told AFP, as fighting continued in Gaza.

The meeting - hosted by Qatar's emir - was a "follow up" to Thursday's talks, which lasted nearly three hours, the source said on condition of anonymity.  

During those talks, Palestinian sources claimed Mashaal backtracked on Hamas's rejection of further talks with Israel.

After a reportedly heated meeting with Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, Qatar-based Hamas political bureau chief made an about-face, calling for the resurrection of truce talks in Cairo.

Mashaal said Hamas "must return to indirect talks" with Israel, according to the Arabic-language Palestine Today.

The discussions, at the palace of Qatari ruler Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, came after fighting in Gaza flared anew on Tuesday as Egyptian-brokered truce efforts collapsed.

They broke down amid a hail of rocket fire from Gaza, which breached the final hours of a temporary ceasefire with Israel on Tuesday. 

In response, Israel launched a series of targeted strikes on Hamas and other terrorist positions, including an attempted assassination on the head of Hamas's "military wing", the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades. Hamas claims Mohammed Deif survived the airstrike, which killed his wife and two of his children, but there has been no word on his actual condition.

On Thursday, three of Hamas's top military commanders were eliminated in an Israeli Air Force strike in southern Gaza.

The Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades has vowed to avenge their deaths, which represent a serious blow to its capabilities. 

In Qatar, no information was immediately available on the content of the discussions there. The Palestinian source said Abbas would leave Doha after the meeting.

Four Palestinians were killed in new Israeli air strikes on Gaza Friday; according to Hamas sources in Gaza, the strikes bring the death toll there since July 8 to 2,087 Palestinians. 67 Israelis have also been killed.