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Hamas chief announces support for UN bid

Nov. 26, 2012 12:47 A.M. (Updated: Nov. 28, 2012 12:41 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Hamas chief-in-exile Khalid Mashaal telephoned President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday to confirm the Islamist movements' support for the upcoming UN bid, the official news agency Wafa reported.

Hamas reiterated Mashaal's call in a statement stressing that the Nov. 29 bid must be based on a nationalistic vision and strategy which upholds the inalienable rights of the Palestinians.

The UN move should also be based on strong Palestinian principles, the most important of which is resistance, the party said.

Hamas has dismissed previous attempts by Abbas to promote the Palestinian cause on the diplomatic stage. "This signals that Hamas is showing greater flexibility towards reconciliation than any time before," said political analyst Hani Habib.

Hamas might struggle to explain its new position to some of its hardline supporters. As recently as Saturday, senior Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar had urged Abbas not to go to New York.

Abbas's UN initiative "represents an ... official concession of the 1948 land," Zahar told reporters.

Speaking to hundreds of supporters in Ramallah on Sunday, Abbas vowed he would speed up unity efforts after he returns from the UN vote.

Mashaal stressed to Abbas that political reconciliation is a necessity and should be achieved "in light of the positive atmosphere following the victory of our people in Gaza."

Reconciliation talks have repeatedly stumbled since Hamas and Fatah signed an Egyptian-brokered reconciliation agreement in May 2011, but Israel's eight-day war on the Gaza Strip which ended Wednesday gave political impetus to ending the division.

In a rare conciliatory move between the rival factions, Hamas announced Friday that it would grant an amnesty to all suspects and prisoners related to its conflict with Fatah in 2006.

The Palestinian Authority responded with a similar gesture, saying it would release all Hamas prisoners held for political reasons in the coming days.

PLO official Nabil Shaath also said that Hamas party representatives in the West Bank would begin to participate in high-level political meetings, including sessions of the executive committee of the PLO.

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