Khalil al-Hayya, deputy head of Hamas in Gaza, gestures during a Palestinian National Popular Conference meet in Gaza City Sunday. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem
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Political rivals accused Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Sunday of pushing ahead with a rare and disputed national decision-making meeting to tighten his grip on power and sideline them. Abbas has billed Monday's convening of the Palestinian National Council, a 700-member assembly within the umbrella Palestinian Liberation Organization, as a chance to forge a united front against Israel and the United States.More than 100 members of the body will be absent, including dozens allied to Islamists Hamas – the largest Palestinian party behind Abbas' Fatah – who have signed a letter opposing the meeting. Last week, 109 PNC members urged Abbas to postpone the meeting to allow greater participation. Hamas and Islamic Jihad oppose Abbas' strategy of peace talks with Israel.
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