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Palestinian leader presides over mass wedding of 218 couples, copying Hamas social outreach

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has presided over a mass wedding of 218 couples in the parking lot of a five-star hotel in the West Bank.

It's the first time he is copying a social outreach tactic perfected by his political rivals from the Islamic militant group Hamas as he courts flagging popular support.

With unemployment in double digits and the cost of living rising, couples unable to afford a traditional wedding jumped at the chance of Tuesday's all-expenses-paid party. Abbas' office paid more than $1 million. Each couple also received $4,000.

The brides wore colorful embroidered Palestinian robes and carried bouquets of white roses.