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Hamas won't attend Palestinian meeting on Jerusalem

Middle East | 2018-01-13 11:08:01
Hamas won't attend Palestinian meeting on Jerusalem
The Hamas Movement said Saturday it would not participate in a meeting of Palestinian leaders to debate responses to the controversial U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

The decision not to take part in the meeting to begin late Sunday is a further setback to reconciliation efforts between leading Palestinian factions.

"We have taken the decision not to participate in the meeting of the (Palestinian) Central Council in Ramallah," Hamas said in a statement, while stressing its "commitment to the unity of our people."

"The conditions under which the committee will be held will not enable it to carry out a comprehensive and responsible political review, and will prevent decisions that reach the level of our aspirations."

The two-day meeting will bring together the heads of the Palestine Liberation Organization, the internationally recognised representative of the Palestinian people.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad, another Palestinian Islamist movement, were invited to attend despite not being part of the PLO. Islamic Jihad has also announced it would not take part.

Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, had been pushing for the meeting to be held outside the Palestinian territories but Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas decided instead to host it in Ramallah, the base of his government in the West Bank.

The Hamas statement said this left them subject to the "pressures" of Israel, which occupies the West Bank and regularly arrests Hamas officials.

The meeting is due to discuss responses to U.S. President Donald Trump's Dec. 6 recognition of occupied Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

The decision outraged Palestinian leaders, for whom at least the east of the city is the capital of a future Palestinian state.

Trump's administration has also not publicly committed to the idea of an independent Palestinian state, and the PLO office in Washington was briefly threatened with closure.

Hamas and Abbas' Fatah party signed a reconciliation agreement in October that was meant to see the Islamists hand over control of Gaza by the end of the year.

The talks have however broken down, with disputes over the fate of tens of thousands of Hamas civil servants and the future of Hamas' armed wing.
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