Rival Palestinian leaders met in Qatar to find an end to years of hostility

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met on Thursday with the two leaders of Hamas in Qatar, Khaled Mishal, the political chief of Hamas, and Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas leader in Gaza to find an end to years of hostility between the two rival movements.

The meeting was held in Qatar and it was “a business lunch” as described by the Palestinian Authority official news agency WAFA

According to The New York Times,the meeting was the first between Mr. Abbas and Mr. Mishal in two years, and during it the leaders agreed to reconcile after a nine-year schism that has divided their people and complicated efforts to negotiate peace with Israel.

Media reports said the two sides agreed on the need to end the almost decade-long internecine battle, stating that “reconciliation is the main pathway to protecting the Palestinian national project and to counter the Israeli government plots aimed at destroying the two-state option.”

During that meeting, Mahmoud Abbas said that the Palestinians “must achieve Palestinian national reconciliation, and remove the causes of division through the formation of a national unity government and elections must be held.”

The two sides also reportedly agreed Thursday on that “there is no Palestinian state in Gaza, and there can be no Palestinian state without Gaza.”

National Palestinian elections haven’t been held since 2006, when Fatah lost to Hamas. A year later, Hamas wrested control of Gaza from the Palestinian Authority government in a violent coup.

Hamas entered a bitter conflict with Abbas’s Fatah movement in 2007, when it ousted the Fatah from the Gaza Strip after the latter lost the National Palestinian elections.

Earlier this week, Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani met with Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal and deputy Ismail Haniyeh in the capital, Doha, in order to discuss recent developments in the Palestinian political arena, especially in the Gaza Strip according to Qatar’s official news agency.