The PLO, an international terrorist organization in its own right, is generally secular. Hamas, a terror group based on radical Islam, has never been a member of the PLO.
Mashal said that the Hamas attained the right to be represented in the PLO when it agreed to the hudna (temporary ceasefire) arrangement early last year. Under the terms of the hudna, the Hamas said it would refrain from carrying out terrorist attacks against Israel. Israeli security sources say they have thwarted numerous Hamas attempts to strike Israel, since the hudna.
Mashal claims that the Hamas is entitled to representation in the PLO equivalent to its representation on the Palestinian Authority council - in other words, a majority. Fatah claims that the agreement entitling the Hamas to PLO representation is void.
Since its loss to Hamas, PA chief Mahmoud Abbas of the Fatah party has suggested conducting negotiations with Israel via the PLO which the Fatah still controls. Hamas has repudiated any possibility of negotiation with Israel, an entity it does not recognize. The Oslo Accords, which recognize Israel’s right to exist, were signed by Fatah terrorist leader Yasser Arafat, in his capacity as chairman of the PLO.
Under Abbas’ new model for the PA, the Hamas would control domestic affairs, while the Fatah would handle relations with Israel and international relations through the PLO.