Palestinian leader quietly in Qatar for World Cup opening

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RAMALLAH, West Bank (TBEN) — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas arrived in Doha on Saturday to attend the opening ceremony of the FIFA World Cup, the Qatar news agency reported, during an unannounced visit by the Palestinians.

Wafa, the official Palestinian news agency, with a highlighted section devoted to Abbas’s day-to-day activities, did not report his trip to Qatar.

This apparently followed an outcry at home over leaked documents allegedly showing the embattled leader traveled to Qatar with a large entourage of close relatives and aides. The documents, which appeared earlier this month but were not independently authenticated, also showed hotel bills in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

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The papers first appeared on social media pages linked to Hamas, the militant group that has ruled the Gaza Strip since ousting pro-Abbas forces in 2007.

Based in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, the Palestinian Authority has become increasingly unpopular over allegations of corruption, silencing critics and mismanagement that have exacerbated the financial crisis. Hamas, which controls Gaza under an Israeli-Egyptian blockade and repeated conflicts with Israel, is faring no better.

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The 2022 World Cup starts in Qatar on Sunday.

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