BEIRUT

Middle East

Hamas says inter-Palestinian talks on track

King Abdullah greets Meshaal in Amman where they discussed Palestinian reconciliation efforts.

AMMAN: Reconciliation talks between Palestinian militant group Hamas and its rival Fatah are on track and will resume in Egypt on Feb. 9, Hamas’ political leader said Monday.

Khaled Meshaal said “obstacles” over crucial issues such as elections and a future government remain, but that he expected progress in talks with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.

“I am optimistic about the Palestinian reconciliation. The international community must respect Palestinian need to end division,” Meshaal said following a closed-door meeting with Jordan’s King Abdullah II in Amman, the third in one year.

“No doubt, there are obstacles, but we will overcome them with our will and determination to end the state of estrangement and division,” he added.

Meshaal told reporters that his talks with Abdullah focused on the state of Palestinian politics following elections in Israel and the United States, and ways to end Palestinian differences.

“Supporting reconciliation efforts is the basis for Palestinian unity which will help the Palestinians restore their rights,” the king told Meshaal.

In the annual meetings of the World in Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Abdullah warned Israel to stop playing a “waiting game,” with regards to peace efforts with the Palestinians.

Abdullah said U.S. President Barack Obama’s second term was the last opportunity to create two states – Palestine and Israel – that can live side-by-side in peace.

Obama spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to congratulate him on his party’s showing in last week’s general election.

“He also reiterated his commitment to the deep and enduring bonds between the United States and Israel, and pledged to work closely with Israel on our shared agenda for peace and security in the Middle East,” a White House statement said.

Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority collapsed in 2008. Abbas’ recent success at the U.N., where he won recognition of a de facto state, angered the Israeli government, which insists Palestinian statehood should be reached through a peace agreement and talks.

Meshaal’s meeting with Abdullah is the third in one year, when Jordan ended a 13-year estrangement with the militant Palestinian group after the rise of Hamas’ parent movement, the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood, in the wake of Arab Spring revolts, especially in Egypt. Islamists are the most influential opposition group in Jordan.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on January 29, 2013, on page 9.

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