Hamas has reportedly agreed to join the Palestine Liberation Organization – a key step toward unifying the long-divided Palestinian leadership.
Hamas Politburo Chief Khaled Mashaal on Thursday joined a committee that will prepare for elections to the PLO leadership.
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Those elections are likely still a while away, but Mashaal's move means he will work with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, head of the rival Fatah party.
The PLO is the umbrella group of the Palestinian independence movement.
Thursday's development is an important step toward reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah, which have been split since Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007.
Separate elections in the West Bank and Gaza for a unified parliament are tentatively set for next year.
On Wednesday, the UK-based Al-Hayat newspaper reported that members of Hamas leadership in Syria excluding had left the country due to the growing unrest plaguing it. According to the report, Mashaal's deputy, Mousa Abu Marzook, traveled to Amman. Qatar is negotiating with Jordanian authorities to take in Mashaal as well.
The report added that Syrian President Bashar Assad refused to meet Mashaal after the latter called for reforms in Syria following the oppression of opposition protestors.
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