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Palestinian leaders Abbas and Haniyeh hold rare meeting in Algeria

Algerian presidency describes the encounter between the two men as 'historic’ as it pushes for Palestinian reconciliation
A handout picture provided by the Palestinian Authority's press office (PPO) on 5 July 2022 shows (L to R) Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas shaking hands with Algerian President Abdelmajid Tebboune and with Palestinian Hamas movement's leader Ismail Haniyeh. (AFP)
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, left, joins hands with Algerian President Abdelmajid Tebboune, centre, and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh on on 5 July 2022 (AFP)

The Palestine Authority (PA) president and the head of the Hamas movement held a rare meeting on Tuesday evening hosted by Algeria’s president. 

Mahmoud Abbas and Ismail Haniyeh met on the sidelines of Algeria’s 60th independence anniversary celebrations in what the Algerian presidency called an “historic” meeting.

The encounter between the “Palestinian brothers” came after years in which the two “did not sit at the same table together,” the presidency said in a statement, without elaborating on the outcome of the talks. 

Abbas and Haniyeh have not met publicly for over five years.

The PA’s delegation included Majed Faraj, the head of the intelligence services, among other officials. 

The PA, which is dominated by the Fatah party, and Hamas, which is the de facto ruler of the Gaza Strip, have long been at odds over a range of political disagreements.

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Algeria, which enjoys good relations with both sides, has been pushing to host reconciliatory talks. 

In December, President Abdelmadjid Tebboune launched an initiative to end the rift between the rival Palestinian parties. 

Since then, Palestinian delegations have reportedly been flying to Algeria regularly to prepare for a national conference ahead of an Arab League summit set to be hosted by Algeria in November.

Tebboune had invited Abbas and Haniyeh to attend Algeria's celebrations marking the anniversary of its independence from France in the hopes it would present an opportunity to kickstart discussions between the two sides. 

Both leaders were among several foreign dignitaries who watched a huge military parade to mark Algeria’s independence in 1962, after 132 years of French occupation. 

Tebboune and Abbas also signed a document to name a street "Algeria" in the West Bank city of Ramallah.