30 October '16..
This has become predictable. Given two minutes of breath, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas resorts to the old tactic of courting Hamas as a way of hiding from the disaffection of his own Fatah faction. The overtures towards Hamas are a smokescreen for what many Palestinians are beginning to perceive as the beginning of a revolt against Abbas.
Last week, Abbas held a surprise meeting in Qatar with Hamas leaders Ismail Haniyeh and Khaled Mashaal. The meeting reportedly considered ways of ending the longstanding dispute between Fatah and Hamas and achieving "national reconciliation."
Abbas aides said the meeting also dealt with the possibility of forming a Palestinian "national unity" government and holding long-overdue presidential, parliamentary and municipal elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The unexpected meeting was held under the auspices of the rulers of Qatar, a country that has long been the Number One sponsor of the Muslim Brotherhood organization, of which Hamas is an offshoot.
The surprising nature of the meeting between Abbas and the Hamas leaders makes sense: for one thing, the two sides had, prior to the encounter, denied that it would take place.
Moreover, the meeting came only weeks after Fatah and Hamas traded allegations over the cancellation of the Palestinian municipal election, supposed to be held in the West Bank and Gaza Strip on October 8. Tensions between the two rival parties have since been mounting over the cancellation of the local election, with each side holding the other responsible for "foiling the democratic, electoral process."
So what is really behind Abbas's latest decision to throw himself into the open arms of Hamas? Is the PA president suddenly smitten with genuine concern for "national reconciliation", or did something else prompt him to rush to Qatar?
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Khaled Abu Toameh, an award-winning journalist, is based in Jerusalem.
Updates throughout the day at http://calevbenyefuneh.blog
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