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Palestinian President to Meet with Hamas Political Chief

A Palestinian lawmaker says Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will meet with the political chief of the governing Hamas group on Saturday.

The lawmaker, Ziad Abu Amr, told reporters Thursday that Mr. Abbas, of Fatah, and Khaled Mashaal, of rival Hamas, will meet in the Syrian capital Damascus in a bid to agree on a unity government.

Mashaal lives in Syria.

Months of negotiations between Fatah and Hamas have failed to produce a unity government. In December, tensions between the groups erupted into violence and deadly street battles in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Palestinian leaders hope a unity government will convince Western donor nations to restore aid to the Palestinian Authority.

In other news, an Israeli official said Thursday that Israel will turn over $100 million in Palestinian tax revenues to Mr. Abbas by Friday.

Israel collects the revenues on behalf of the Palestinians. It suspended the transfers after Hamas took power in the Palestinian territories. The Islamic militant group refuses to recognize Israel and renounce violence.

Israel has been trying to bolster the more moderate Palestinian president in his standoff with Hamas.

Donor nations also suspended aid to the Palestinian Authority after Hamas won parliamentary elections last January and formed a government.

Unity talks failed over whether Hamas will recognize Israel and who will control key cabinet portfolios.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP.