In a move that is seen as a goodwill gesture toward Hamas, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday issued a “presidential decree” appointing the son of Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh as member of the Palestinian Higher Council for Youths and Sport.
The son, Abdel Salam, manages a sports program that is broadcast on Hamas’s Al-Aqsa TV station in the Gaza Strip. The council is headed by Munib al-Masri, a wealthy Palestinian businessman from Nablus who has close ties with both the PA and Hamas.
The deputy chairman of the council will be former PA security commander Jibril Rajoub, who in recent years serves as president of the Palestinian Union for Soccer.
The new 25-member council will replace the PA’s Ministry of Youths and Sports, which would hand over its authorities to the members of the appointed council. The council’s mission is to supervise the various Palestinian sports clubs and tournaments in the Palestinian territories and abroad, sources in the PA Ministry of Youths and Sports said.
Hamas did not say whether Haniyeh’s son had accepted the appointment. A Hamas spokesman in the Gaza Strip said he did not rule out the possibility that Abbas was trying to send a conciliatory message to the Islamist movement in order to pave the way fro reconciliation between the two parties.