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October 19
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Islamist movement Hamas said Saturday it would not participate in a meeting of Palestinian leaders to debate responses to the controversial US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

The decision not to take part in the meeting to begin late Sunday is a further setback to failing reconciliation efforts between leading Palestinian factions.

"We have taken the decision not to participate in the meeting of the (Palestinian) Central Council in Ramallah," Hamas said in a statement, however stressing its "commitment to the unity of our people".

"The conditions under which the committee will be held will not enable it to carry out a comprehensive and responsible political review, and will prevent decisions that reach the level of our aspirations."

The two-day meeting will bring together the heads of the Palestine Liberation Organization, the internationally recognised representative of the Palestinian people.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad, another Palestinian Islamist movement, were invited to attend despite not being part of the PLO. Islamic Jihad has also announced it would not take part.

Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, had been pushing for the meeting to be held outside the Palestinian territories but Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas decided instead to host it in Ramallah, the base of his government in the West Bank.

The Hamas statement said this left them subject to the "pressures" of Israel, which occupies the West Bank and regularly arrests Hamas officials.

The meeting is due to discuss responses to US President Donald Trump's December 6 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

The decision infuriated Palestinian leaders, who see at least the east of the city as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

Trump's administration has also not publicly committed to the idea of an independent Palestinian state, and the PLO office in Washington was briefly threatened with closure.

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