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Hamas chief urges Palestinian unity

Group leader Khaled Meshaal said Hamas are ready to meet their rival Fatah “in any Arab country.”

Published: Updated:

Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal has called for “national unity” late on Monday but said a first congress among Palestinian leaders in 20 years should be postponed until a compromise is struck.

Meshaal, speaking in Qatar where he lives in exile, said Palestinian leaders from the Islamist movement Hamas and the secular Fatah had to present a unified front.

“We as Palestinians, we are being divided against ourselves; there’s a lack of authority,” he told a news conference in Doha.

“It’s unbelievable and it’s unacceptable from any Palestinian leader.”

He added: “The cause of Palestine is bigger than Hamas and Fatah.”

But Meshaal said a proposed congress of Palestinian leaders set to take place later this month should be postponed.

“The meeting should be about the laws and regulations we agreed on otherwise this will lead to more division,” Meshaal said.

He added that Hamas were ready to meet its rival Fatah “in any Arab country.”

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Earlier on Monday, Palestinian leaders moved toward a postponement of the congress amid speculation over the intentions of President Mahmud Abbas.

The meeting of the Palestine National Council (PNC), a congress representing those in the Palestinian territories and the diaspora, was to take place on September 14-15 but a new date is likely to be set.

Abbas recently announced his resignation as chairman of the PLO in a bid to force new elections for its executive committee.
His resignation along with a number of others from the 18-member committee will only take effect with a meeting of the PNC, which includes more than 700 people.

Abbas’s allies say his moves are part of efforts to inject new blood in the Palestinian leadership.
Critics, however, argue that Abbas is maneuvering to empower his allies and marginalize opponents ahead of the 80-year-old’s eventual retirement.