Abbas calls ex-Hamas head to check up on his health, PA media says
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Abbas calls ex-Hamas head to check up on his health, PA media says

Gaza-based source with knowledge of Khaled Mashaal’s medical condition says former terror group chief is experiencing a ‘minor illness’ and is at home in Doha

Adam Rasgon is the Palestinian affairs reporter at The Times of Israel

Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, left, with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. (AP)
Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, left, with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. (AP)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called former Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal on Wednesday to inquire about his health, the official PA news site Wafa reported.

Abbas has been at loggerheads with Hamas since the terrorist group ousted the Fatah-dominated PA from the Gaza Strip in 2007.

In recent years, the PA president is believed to have seldom communicated with senior Hamas leaders.

“During the call, his excellency wished Mashaal a speedy recovery,” the Wafa report said, without providing details about the former top Hamas official’s health.

A Gaza-based source with knowledge of Mashaal’s medical condition said the former Hamas chairman, 63, was experiencing a “minor illness” and was at his home in Doha.

Mashaal, who grew up in the West Bank town of Silwad, served as Hamas chairman between 2004 and 2017. He was succeeded by Ismail Haniyeh, who resides in Gaza.

Abbas arrived in Doha on Tuesday and met Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani on Wednesday.

Qatar maintains contacts with both Fatah, Abbas’s party, and Hamas, and has unsuccessfully tried to reconcile the warring Palestinian factions.

Abbas updated Tamim on the “latest developments in the Palestinian arena,” Wafa reported earlier on Wednesday of the meeting between the Palestinian and Qatari leaders.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, right, and then Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas, left, as they head the first cabinet meeting of the new coalition government at Abbas’s office in Gaza City, March 18, 2007. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra, File)

PLO Executive Committee member Azzam al-Ahmad said on Sunday that the PA president and the Qatari emir would meet later in the week, and discuss efforts to hold parliamentary and presidential elections in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.

In late September, Abbas told the annual gathering of the United Nations General Assembly in New York City that he would call for general elections in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem.

He has since met with the head of the PA Central Elections Committee, Hanna Nasser, on several occasions.

Hamas has declared it was ready to participate in legislative and presidential elections and has stated it was prepared to make some concessions to allow the vote to take place.

The PA has not held parliamentary or presidential elections since 2006 and 2005, respectively.

Both Fatah and Hamas have said they would not participate in elections that do not include East Jerusalem.

While Israel has previously allowed Palestinians to vote in PA elections in East Jerusalem, it has not indicated whether it would allow for a vote to take place in the future.

A spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not respond to a request for comment.

The Oslo Accords, agreements signed by Israel and the PLO in the 1990s, set out a mechanism to enable Palestinians to participate in elections in East Jerusalem, which the Jewish state considers part of its sovereign capital.

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