From JPost, 22 Dec 2011, by KHALED ABU TOAMEH AND HERB KEINON:
...Leaders of several Palestinian groups, including Hamas and Fatah, agreed Thursday to “activate and reconstruct” the PLO so as to allow other non-member parties to join the organization. ...The move will pave the way for Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other radical groups to join the PLO, which includes 10 members – the largest being Fatah.
Regev said that anyone who had any illusions about Hamas's true character should have listened to the speeches last week in Gaza from Hamas's leaders at an event marking the 25th anniversary of the founding of the organization. "What we heard was a stream of hateful, extremist rhetoric," he said.
Hamas, Regev said, is totally opposed to peace and reconciliation, believes that the Jewish state should be obliterated, and that terrorism against civilians is justified. "Hamas is not a political organization that uses terrorism, Hamas is to its very core a genocidal terrorist organization," he said.
Other members of the PLO include the Popular Front for the liberation of Palestine, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Palestinian People’s Party, the Palestine Liberation Front and the Arab Liberation Front, as well as six other tiny groups aligned with Syria and Iraq’s now defunct Ba’ath Party.
...Thursday’s agreement paves the way for the establishment of a provisional leadership of the PLO that would include, for the first time ever, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other groups. These groups will later become incorporated into various PLO institutions, especially the Palestine National Council (PNC), the organization’s parliament-in-exile.
The PNC is the legislative body of the PLO and elects its Executive Committee, the main decision-making body of the organization.
At Thursday’s discussions in Cairo, the Palestinian leaders agreed to form a committee headed by PNC Speaker Salim Zanoun to discuss ways of “activating and reconstructing” the PLO so that Hamas and other groups would be incorporated into the organization, Fatah and Hamas officials said.
They said that the committee would include, for the first time, representatives of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other groups that are not members of the PLO.
The committee will hold its first meeting in the Jordanian capital of Amman on January 15, 2012.
Following the meeting of the Palestinian factions, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas issued a “presidential decree” for the establishment of a new Palestinian Elections Commission that would prepare for presidential and parliamentary elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. No date has been set for the vote, although PA officials have talked about the possibility of holding the elections on May 4, 2012.
The Palestinian factions are also hoping to hold new elections for the PNC, which has 669 members.
The Cairo discussions were also attended by Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal.
A Hamas official said that Mashaal and Abbas reached agreement on the release of detainees being held in Hamas and PA prisons in the Gaza Strip and West Bank by the end of next month.
The two also agreed to form a committee comprising representatives of several Palestinian factions to discuss ending restrictions imposed by the PA and Hamas governments against activists belonging to the two sides, including travel bans....