Fatah's Azzam al-Ahmed, Hamas's Ismail Haniyeh
Fatah's Azzam al-Ahmed, Hamas's Ismail HaniyehFlash 90

Hamas is discussing the possibility of attending its rival Fatah’s seventh conference later this week, Hamas spokesman Hazem Qasim told the Ma’an news agency on Sunday.

The announcement came almost a week after Hamas denied reports that it had been invited to attend the congress.

Qasim said that Hamas had recently received an invitation to attend the November 29 event in Ramallah.

Meanwhile, Islamic Jihad spokesman Daoud Shihab told Ma’an that the organization had also received an invitation to the conference, and that it would send a representative to participate.

The congress being held this Tuesday by the Fatah party, headed by Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas, will be its first since 2009.

While Abbas's advisers insist the congress is being held because it is overdue, some analysts see it as an opportunity for him to sideline allies of his exiled longtime rival Mohammed Dahlan.

A former security chief in Gaza under Fatah, Dahlan was ousted from the party in 2011 and fled to Dubai. His home in Ramallah was later raided by PA security forces.

Abbashasaccused Dahlan of, among other things, collaborating with Israel to assassinate a senior Hamas terrorist in 2002. Dahlan has repeatedly verbally attacked Abbas from his new whereabouts in Dubai.

While Arab nations have reportedly been pressuring Abbas to allow Dahlan to return so that he can eventually succeed him as head of Fatah, Abbas is against that idea. Dahlan recently stated he would not run against Abbas.

The congress, which will last up to five days, will include elections for Fatah's 23-member central committee and its 132-member revolutionary council, considered Fatah's parliament.

That Hamas was invited to the conference is significant, given that Hamas and Fatah have been engaged in a bitter rivalry since 2006, when Hamas violently took over control of Gaza from Fatah and given that Abbas is called a "moderate" by most of the Western world, while the Hamas charter calls for the destruction of the state of Israel.

A unity government between Hamas and Fatah collapsed last June when Abbas decided to dissolve it amid a deepening rift between the sides. This only intensified the war of words between the sides.

Since the unity government was dissolved, Hamas and Fatah have held several rounds of reconciliation talks in Doha, Qatar – but with no success.