Hamas chief heads to Beirut for Palestinian factions meeting
Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh landed in the Lebanese capital on Tuesday, ahead of a planned Thursday video-conference between various Palestinian factions, headed by PA President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, local sources reported.
The meeting was confirmed following "some confusion over the initial arrangements", Osama Hamdan, a senior representative of Hamas in Lebanon said, after Haniyeh's visit was suddenly cancelled on Monday night.
It was put back on the agenda on Tuesday morning.
Hamas representative in Lebanon welcomed Haniyeh's visit on Twitter, adding: "We hope that it is successful and fruitful for our nation and our cause."
Haniyeh's return to Beirut comes after 27 years. His last visit to the country was in 1993, after Israel banished over 400 Hamas and Islamic Jihad members.
Their exile eventually ended a year later following pressure from US President Bill Clinton's administration and mass condemnation from the international community, including the UN, which slammed it as a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Thursday's meeting will include representatives from the Palestinian Liberation Organisation and Islamic Jihad.
Member of the PLO Executive Committee Wael Abu Youssef told Arabi 21 "this important meeting will include the general secretaries of the Palestinian factions and will be held via a video-conference between Beirut and Ramallah."
The meeting will discuss plans to confront the US-backed 'Deal of the Century', Israel's annexation plans, and the recent normalisation between Israel and the UAE, Abu Youssef told Arabi 21.
The UAE has touted the normalisation deal as a tool to force Israel into halting its contentious plan to annex parts of the West Bank, land sought by the Palestinians for their future state.
The Palestinians, however, have fiercely opposed the normalisation as peeling away one of their few advantages in moribund peace talks with Israel.
Read also: US eyes Saudi Arabia to normalise Israel relations next
Hamas spokesperson Hazem Qassem said the UAE-Israel deal went against the position of the Emirati people, and was "in Zionist interests only".
"The UAE's regime insisting in contradicting the people and nation's attitudes and the official consensus against normalisation, the UAE-Israel deal is in Zionist interests only, working against national Arab security and fuelling disagreements in the region," Qassem said.
With the US as matchmaker, Israel and the UAE agreed earlier this month to work toward normalisation, which would make the UAE the third Arab nation to have full relations with Israel, after Egypt and Jordan.
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