Hamas Urges ‘National Unity’ as Congress Set for Delay

September 7, 2015  

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

Mashaal, speaking in Qatar where he lives, said Palestinian leaders from the Islamist terror movement Hamas and the more 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.”

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

“Postpone the meeting of the National Congress until there’s a compromise for the meeting,” he asserted. “The meeting should be about the laws and regulations we agreed on otherwise this will lead to more division.”

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

Earlier on Monday, Palestinian leaders did in fact move toward a postponement of the congress amid speculation over the intentions of Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

The meeting of the Palestine National Council, 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 has announced his resignation as chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization in a bid to force new elections for its executive committee.

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.

AFP contributed to this report.

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