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Report: Hamas to move Syria headquarters

April 30, 2011 10:03 A.M. (Updated: May 1, 2011 12:26 P.M.)
LONDON (Ma'an) -- Hamas will relocate its headquarters to Qatar from Damascus, sources told the Arabic-language daily Dar Al-Hayat in a report published Saturday.

The plan, according to the report, would be for Hamas' political office to move to Qatar while its military wing would take up residence in the Gaza Strip. An interest office will open in Cairo, Dar Al-Hayat's sources claimed.

The report comes amid increased risk of political instability in Syria, which has allowed Hamas to operate relatively freely ever since its leadership was expelled from Jordan, which has a peace treaty with Israel.

In Israel, meanwhile, radio reports said a Hamas official denied any plans to leave Damascus.

In Gaza, a Hamas leader denied other reports that the supposed move comes at the request of Syria: "This is utterly false," Salah Bardawil said in a statement on Saturday.

The various reports, none of which could not be independently confirmed, came days after the Palestinian faction and its rival Fatah agreed to sign a reconciliation deal that would reunite the occupied territories.

Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal will meet next week in Cairo with Palestinian Authority president and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas to sign the agreement, a Fatah leader and other officials said Friday.

It will be the first time the two men have met since the Islamist movement Hamas -- designed a terrorist organization by the US -- seized control of the Gaza Strip in June 2007, ousting Fatah from the coastal territory after a week of bloody street battles.

Americans to assess aid

The US, meanwhile, is waiting to see if a new Palestinian government is formed before deciding on any changes to its aid policy, officials said Friday.

"The current Palestinian government remains in place and so our assistance programs continue," State Department policy planning director Jacob Sullivan told reporters.

"If a new Palestinian government is formed, we're going to have to assess it based on its policies at the time and determine, then, the implications for our assistance given US law," Sullivan said.

Sullivan stressed any new Palestinian government would have accept the principles set down by the diplomatic Quartet of the US, UN, EU and Russia, in a so-called roadmap to peace.

Those three principles are: renouncing violence, accepting past agreements, and recognizing Israel's right to exist, he said.

The deal, announced in Cairo on Wednesday, saw the secular Fatah party which dominates the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority and Gaza's Islamist rulers agree to form a transitional government ahead of polls within a year.

"We support Palestinian reconciliation on terms that promote the cause of peace," Sullivan stressed.

"In terms of this particular deal, the specifics of it, and how it will be implemented that's something that we're continuing to study."

AFP contributed to this report.
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