Palestinians: Egyptian Involvement Essential to Revive Peace Process With Israel

President Abbas welcomes Sissi's support for the French peace initiative; a senior Palestinian official doubts that an Israeli unity government would make a difference on the diplomatic front.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, April 19, 2016.
Michael Sohn, AP

The Palestinian Authority welcomes the call by Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi to renew the peace process and his public support for the French peace initiative, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Tuesday.

"Egypt has always been an anchor for the Palestinians, and its support of an international push will greatly aid the effort to lead to a comprehensive settlement that will include at its core the foundation of a Palestinian state alongside the State of Israel," he said.

Earlier on Tuesday, Sissi declared his support for the French proposal to hold a Mideast peace conference later this year and said he was prepared to "make every effort" to contribute to an Israeli-Palestinian settlement. Sissi called on Israel and the Palestinians to seize what he described as a "realistic" and "great" opportunity to reach a peaceful settlement to their decades-old conflict.

A senior official at Abbas' office told Haaretz that "this stalemate cannot continue. We anticipate such a move before the end of President Barack Obama's term. We greatly appreciate France and the effort to convene an international convention, but without key players such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and of course the U.S., this move can't ripen into something operational, mostly because of the Israeli recalcitrance."

Regarding the possibility of a unity government in Israel, the official said it is an internal Israeli matter, but that the Zionist Union's entry into the governing coalition "could be a kind of a political message."

However, he noted that "our experience has proven that figures like Herzog and Livni are a sort of mask that Netanyahu uses, because in the end he's the one who determines policy and not anyone else," referring to the prime minister and the leaders of the Zionist Union.