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Report: Hamas agrees to join PLO

Dec. 22, 2011 2:44 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 23, 2011 12:30 P.M.)
CAIRO (Ma'an) -- Hamas has agreed to join the Palestine Liberation Organization in a move intended to bolster Palestinian reconciliation, The Associated Press reported Thursday.

There was no immediate confirmation, but officials in Cairo said Hamas and Islamic Jihad expressed flexibility and indicated they would accept the PLO's legitimacy.

The report came after President Mahmoud Abbas met Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal in Cairo to put "final touches" on an agreement to reconcile the leaders' rival factions.

Officials from Islamic Jihad and the Palestinian National Initiative said late Thursday that they had accepted positions on an "interim leadership" of the PLO.

Ayed Yaghi, a PNI leader, said the small faction joined the PLO and that it was a natural position to take.

Head of the PNI Mustafa Barghouthi called it "a historic day in the lives of the Palestinian people with the development of a united national leadership as Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the PNI joined the PLO’s leadership framework."

An Islamic Jihad leader, however, said that joining the "interim leadership framework" of the PLO did not necessarily mean it had formally accepted membership in the Palestinian body.

Khaled Al-Batsh told Ma’an that joining the organization requires a clear framework for how the PLO will be restructured.

He added that if there was an agreement concerning these issues, Islamic Jihad would become a member in the organization. However, if there was not, the group said it was still willing to contribute.

“We’re now in the phase of national dialogue," he said. "We’re in the interim leadership framework, which will handle restructuring the PLO, and we hope to succeed.”
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