Saturday, April 30, 2011

Report: Hamas leadership to relocate from Syria to Qatar

Hamas' Syria-based leader, Khaled Mashaal and other senior Hamas officials are planning to relocate from Syria to the Arab emirate city of Qatar, Army Radio reported on Saturday.

Quoting London-based Arab daily Al-Hayat, Army Radio reported that Qatar had agreed to host the leaders after Egypt and Jordan denied the request, but refused to host the party's military leaders.

More than 15 members of Hamas's Political Bureau have been operating in exile in Damascus since 1999.

According to the report, Hamas' military echelon will relocate to the Gaza strip. There was no mention of a reason for the relocation, which will come just days after Hamas and the leading West Bank party Fatah signed an historic reconciliation deal.

On Wednesday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement hammered an historic reconciliation deal with the rival Hamas group, agreeing to form an interim government and fix a date for general election within the year.

The deal, which took many officials by surprise, was thrashed out in Egypt and followed a series of secret meetings.

Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar insisted that Hamas was united in its move toward a unity government, however, it is still unclear how widespread that agreement is.

Abbas has been making a heavy push for reconciliation with Hamas, with which it held a unity government that collapsed during a five-day civil war in 2007 and ended with the Islamic militant group seizing power in the Gaza Strip. Fatah had already signed the reconciliation agreement in October 2009, but Hamas had until now refused to give up on demands it had set before the rival group.

Restoring Palestinian unity is seen as crucial to reviving any prospect for a Palestinian state based on peaceful co-existence alongside Israel. Fatah, the mainstream Palestinian movement until a 2006 election victory by Hamas, backs negotiated peace but the Islamists reject it.



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