Photo Credit: Ma'an news agency
Mashaal (L) and Abbas (C) in Cairo
Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal (L) and Fatah chief Mahmoud Abbas (C) in Cairo, 2012.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas phoned Hamas chief Khalid Mashaal on Wednesday to discuss ending the division between their organizations. The call had been prearranged, a Fatah official told Ma’an.

Azzam al-Ahmad said Abbas phoned Mashaal to accelerate implementing national reconciliation. Abbas talked with Mashaal about his first visit to Gaza, and about Hamas’s 25th anniversary celebrations.

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Al-Ahmad said he and a member in Fatah’s central committee had met Mashaal on Wednesday, as part a of new efforts to see if a reconciliation deal could finally be implemented.

The Fatah official said he was pleased that Mashaal was able to enter the Gaza Strip after decades away from Palestine, and also happy for Mashaal’s participation in Hamas’s anniversary events. He said the celebrations were aimed to end the division between Gaza and the PA.

Al-Ahmad said it was too soon to say when a meeting in Cairo with all the factions would take place, as Hamas officials were still in Gaza for the anniversary and Egypt is holding a constitutional referendum.

On Thursday Abbas proceeded to criticize Mashaal’s statement that his group will “never recognize the state of Israel.”

“I don’t agree with Khaled Mashaal’s statement on the non-recognition of Israel because we, in fact, recognized it in 1993,” Abbas told a group of reporters in Ankara following his two-day visit, Turkish Weekly reported. “A four-article agreement between [Fatah and Hamas] stipulates a two-state vision. And Mashaal approved of this agreement.”

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