Abbas meets with Hamas leadership in Qatar

Meeting centered on ending rivalry and reformation of unity government ahead of elections to be held sometime in 2017

Hamas and Fatah officials in Gaza (AFP)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met with both Hamas political chief Khaled Mashaal and Hamas Gaza political head Ismail Haniyeh in Qatar Sunday. The meeting centered mainly on Palestinian elections and on ending the “over decade of hostility and political rivalry” between Fatah and Hamas

The Palestinian Authority reported that reconciliation “is the main pathway to protecting the Palestinian national project” as well as the means to “counter Israel’s government plots aimed at destroying the two-state option.” PA President Mahmoud Abbas stated following their meeting “We must achieve Palestinian national reconciliation, and remove the causes of division through the formation of a national unity government and elections must be held.”

At the beginning of the month, the Palestinian Authority suspended Palestinian municipal elections until 2017. The Palestinian Authority made the decision to not only postpone municipal elections, but also limit the elections to the West Bank after numerous polls showed Hamas winning the elections. The decision to limit the elections to West Bank residents only took place one day after the elections were postponed. Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah stated that the decision was made as “a commitment to the general interest of the people.”

The delay was rejected by Hamas spokesman for the terrorist organization, Sami Abu Zuhri, stating on the decision “Hamas rejects the court’s decision that divides the Palestinian people and will consult with other factions on how to confront it.”

The Palestinians have not held elections in over a decade, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas deciding earlier this year to hold elections and allow both Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to vote on the same day.

In June of 2015, the Palestinian unity government between Fatah and Hamas resigned following reports that Hamas was in indirect talks with Israel following Operation Protective Edge. The unity government was formed in April 2014, cutting then US-mediated peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians in its last of four stages.