DOHA: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas arrived in Doha on Sunday for talks on securing a ceasefire in the Gaza war with the Qatari emir, whose country has been at the heart of mediation efforts and hosts political leaders of Hamas.

Palestinian news agency WAFA said Abbas would meet emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani on Monday, but did not say if he would also meet leaders of Hamas, a group that has long been at odds with Abbas and his West Bank-based Fatah group.

The Palestinian ambassador to Qatar, Munir Ghannam, told Voice of Palestine Radio on Sunday that Abbas and the emir would discuss efforts to secure a Gaza ceasefire with Israel and ways to increase aid for the territory’s 2.3 million people.

“Qatar plays an important role in the international efforts and mediation to reach a ceasefire. Therefore, coordination with Qatar, also with Egypt, is of special importance, to bring an end to this aggression against our people,” Ghannam said.

Qatar hosts the head of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, as well as another senior leader in the group, Khaled Meshaal, who handles diaspora affairs in the Hamas political office.

Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007 from Ramallah-based Abbas after a brief civil war with security forces that were loyal to the Palestinian president.

Abbas’ authority has largely been reduced to the Israeli-occupied West Bank, which is larger than Gaza but which is also fractured by Israeli settlements.

Past attempts, mainly led by Egypt, to resolve disputes between Hamas and Fatah have so far failed to end the rifts, which analysts say weakens Palestinian efforts to secure a state of their own on land now occupied by Israel.

Most countries deem Jewish settlements built on land Israel occupied in a 1967 Middle East war as illegal. Israel disputes this.

Published in Dawn, February 12th, 2024

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