Hamas exiled leader to visit Egypt: report

The exiled leader of the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) Khaled Meshaal would visit Egypt after the three-day-long Eid al-Fitr holiday beginning on Tuesday, Egypt's official news agency MENA reported on Monday.

The report, citing well-informed Palestinian sources, said Meshaal, now in exile in Syria, is expected to meet with Egyptian officials on two major issues, namely the release of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and the narrowing of the Hamas-Fatah gap.

The sources also said Hamas planned to agree with the formation of a Palestinian national unity government, which the movement preferred to last only for a specific period of one year before holding legislative and presidential elections, the sources said.

At the same time, Hamas dreaded a call for early legislative elections by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, fearing it would place the movement in a very awkward situation, they added.

As for the prisoner swap, the report quoted the sources as saying that the deal for the release of the kidnapped Israeli soldier Shalit was almost ready and a new formula of the deal had been sent to Israel lately for study.

It added that an Israeli response to the formula is expected within the coming hours.

Three Palestinian militant groups, one of which an armed wing of Hamas, seized Shalit in a cross-border raid on an Israeli post in southern Gaza Strip on June 25 and has held him hostage since then.

Since June 25, Egyptian officials have been actively coordinating a prisoner swap, which involved Shalit and Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails.

Earlier, Israeli Minister of Infrastructure Benyamin Ben- Eliezer had said during his Oct. 19 visit in Cairo that an Egypt- brokered prisoner swap between Israel and the Palestinians was vetoed by Meshaal.

Hamas has been at loggerheads with Fatah led by Abbas in the last several months, especially in the last several weeks after talks between Abbas and Hamas leaders over forming a national unity government deadlocked due to Hamas' refusal to recognize Israel.

Source: Xinhua

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