Abbas, Mashaal to meet to discuss Palestinian elections

Aide to Abbas tells 'The Jerusalem Post' that the elections could be held as early as March next year.

PA President Abbas with Hamas leader Khaled  Mashaal 311 (R) (photo credit: REUTERS/Ho New)
PA President Abbas with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal 311 (R)
(photo credit: REUTERS/Ho New)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal are expected to meet later this month to discuss holding presidential and parliamentary elections in the Palestinian territories, a PA official in Ramallah said Monday.
On Sunday, Mashaal and Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh phoned Abbas to offer their greetings on the occasion of the Muslim feast of Id al-Adha, the official said, noting this was yet another sign of improved relations between Hamas and Abbas’s Fatah faction.
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Nimer Hammad, political adviser to Abbas, said the meeting between the two men would take place in the second half of this month in Cairo.
Hammad said that in addition to the issue of the elections Abbas and Mashaal will discuss ways of ending the Hamas-Fatah dispute and reuniting the Palestinians.
London-based Al-Hayat claimed Abbas was planning to call the elections next May.
According to the paper, Abbas has asked Fatah members and supporters to start preparing themselves for the vote.
However, an aide to Abbas told The Jerusalem Post the elections could be held as early as March next year.
The aide said Abbas would discuss the issue of the elections with Mashaal during their upcoming meeting and try to reach agreement on a date for holding the vote.
Elections for the PA presidency were due to be held in January 2009, while the vote for the parliament was scheduled for January 2010.
But the power struggle between Hamas and Fatah has prevented an agreement on holding new elections.
Mashaal was quoted by Hamas-affiliated media outlets as saying he would do his utmost to ensure the success of his talks with Abbas.
Mashaal said the “current circumstances and the reality on the ground enhance the prospects of achieving reconciliation.”
In a separate message to Palestinians on the occasion of Id, the Hamas leader said the Palestinians in particular and the Arabs and Muslims in general were headed toward achieving “one victory after another on the way to liberating Palestine and restoring our lands and rights.”
Abbas recently told members of the Fatah Revolutionary Council who met in Ramallah that he was interested in achieving reconciliation with Hamas and holding new elections in the Palestinian territories.
Abbas has repeatedly stated in the past few years that he has no intention to seek re-election. At this stage, it’s not clear who would replace Abbas as head of Fatah when and if he indeed decides not to seek a second term in office.