Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, and Hamas politburo chief Ismail Haniyeh during the celebrations of Algeria’s independence on 5 July 2022. (Photo credit: AFP)
On the sidelines of Algeria’s independence celebrations, President of the Palestinian Authority (PA) Mahmoud Abbas met publicly with the leader of the Hamas political wing, Ismail Haniyeh, on 5 July at the behest of Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune.
Head of the #Hamas Political Bureau Ismail Haniyeh, #Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas met with the Algerian President Tebboune.
— Mete Sohtaoğlu (@metesohtaoglu) July 5, 2022
The two have not met publicly since October 2016, when they held a meeting in Doha, Qatar in an attempt to reconcile between Hamas and Fatah.
Representatives of President Abbas and Hamas also met during the meeting in the Algerian capital.
Algerian state media referred to the meeting, facilitated by the Algerian president, as historic.
Elections were slated to take place last year in the Palestinian territories, but were indefinitely postponed by Abbas, allegedly to negotiate with the Israeli government on terms for allowing Palestinian residents of Jerusalem to vote.
However, critics suspect Abbas is using the votes of Jerusalem residents to cling to power, given the growing discontent with his rule and the PA in general due to their collaboration with the Israeli occupation.
In early January, an Israeli official revealed that PA forces carried out raids in the West Bank city of Jenin at the direct request of Israeli forces.
“[Tel Aviv] stimulated the [PA] security forces through continuous security coordination, and in the end, they entered Jenin and acted against terrorist organizations there, confiscating weapons and arresting many activists,” the Chief of Staff of the Israeli army, Aviv Kochavi, said on 31 December last year.
Kochavi reportedly added that the ability to have the PA act in the interests of Israel was the result of close security cooperation between the two sides.
In November 2021, President Abbas met Shin Bet director Ronen Bar to cooperate on reducing Hamas influence in the West Bank.
PA police forces were responsible for the murder of PA critic and activist Nizar Banat, who died during a brutal PA raid on his home. The officers who took part in the raid were recently released from prison.
Palestinian Authority Security Services (PSS) took part in the violent repression of a student rally at a West Bank university on 14 June, leaving several protesters and academics wounded.
Hamas called the repression of student protests a “barbaric and criminal attack by the security thuggery for which the university administration bears responsibility.”
Syrian Foreign Minister Faysal Mikdad was also in attendance at the independence celebrations in Algeria.
While it is unclear if Mikdad met with Hamas officials, there are many indications that Hamas and Syria will seek to formally reconcile their ties since their relations froze in 2011 following the western-backed insurgency against Damascus.
According to a report by Reuters, Hamas is expected to resume ties with Damascus soon. In the period between 18–19 June, a delegation from Hamas reportedly visited Syria and met with officials.