Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh called Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday and offered his condolences to him on the death of a well-known Fatah member, the official PA news site Wafa reported, marking a rare sign of contact between the two.
Abbas’s Fatah party has been at loggerheads with the Hamas terror group since the latter ousted the PA from the Gaza Strip in 2007. Multiple attempts to reconcile the two have failed.
In recent years, the PA president was believed to have seldom communicated with senior Hamas leaders.
Former senior Fatah official Ahmed Abdel Rahman died at the age of 76 on Monday.
“[Haniyeh] consoled him on the passing of the great national fighter Ahmed Abdel Rahman,” the Wafa report stated.
The Hamas-affiliated daily al-Resalah confirmed the call.
Throughout his career, Abdel Rahman held a number of positions in Palestinian officialdom such as Fatah spokesman, adviser to Abbas for PLO affairs, senior aide to former PA president Yasser Arafat, secretary-general of the PA cabinet among others.
Former Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal also called Abbas and offered his condolences to Abbas on the death of Abdel Rahman, according to a separate Wafa report.
The reports in Wafa and al-Resalah did not state whether Abbas and the Hamas leader discussed any topics other than Abdel Rahman’s passing, but they came as discussions about legislative and presidential elections in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem have intensified.
Both Abbas and Haniyeh have recently met with Hanna Nasser, the head of the PA Central Elections Commission, several times to discuss the possibility of holding legislative 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.
Hamas has declared that it was ready to participate in legislative and presidential elections on many occasions 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.