AMMAN, Jordan (AP) – 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.
Khalid Mashaal said that “obstacles” over crucial issues such as elections and a future government remain, but that he expected progress in talks with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.
“We’ve made good steps in our previous reconciliation talks and we have a timetable to follow,” Mashaal 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.
Mashaal told reporters that his talks with Abdullah focused on the s tate of Palestinian politics following elections in Israel and the United States, and ways to end Palestinian differences.
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 that 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. Hamas’ own ideology rejects that arrangement as it considers an Islamic Middle East its goal. But some of the more pragmatic Hamas leaders favor some sort of acceptance for Israel.
Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority collapsed in 2008. Abbas’s 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.
Mashaal’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’s 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 Jordanian citizen, Mashaal was welcomed back last January. Hamas rejects Jordan’s cordial ties with Israel under a peace treaty signed in 1994. Mashaal was expelled in 1999 for activities deemed “illicit and harmful” to Jordan’s stability and national security.
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