Palestinian President Abbas, Egypt's Sissi to Meet in Cairo Following Months of Strained Ties

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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sissi meet in 2014.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sissi meet in 2014.Credit: AFP

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is to meet with Egyptian President Abed Fattah al-Sissi on Monday following months of tension between the Palestinian Authority and Egypt.

Abbas, who is in currently in Qatar and will be travelling on to Europe in the course of the week, is to arrive in Cairo on Sunday in advance of his meeting with the Egyptian president the following day.

Sissi spokesman Alla Youssef said that Abbas’ visit is at the invitation of the Egyptian president and the two would discuss a range of issues relating to the Arab world and the broader international community in advance of the Arab League summit in Jordan at the end of the month. The summit agenda is to include the humanitarian, economic and security situation of the Palestinian people and efforts to restart the peace process with Israel and to encourage the parties to return to the negotiating table, Alla said.

The Palestinian ambassador in Cairo, Jamal al-Shoubaki, told the Palestinian news agency that Abbas would provide Sissi with details regarding his talks with U.S. President Donald Trump, with whom at this point he has spoken by phone, and with Trump envoy Jason Greenblatt, with whom Abbas met in Ramallah.

Last month, Haaretz reported on tensions between Cairo and Ramallah over the past year against the backdrop of efforts by the American secretary of state at the time, John Kerry, to promote regional steps to jumpstart the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. The tensions were reflected in a number of steps that the Egyptians took, including resumed contacts with Hamas and closer ties with Abbas’ political rival Mohammed Dahlan. Last month, the Egyptians also barred Jibril Rajoub, a member of the central committee of Abbas’ Fatah party, from entering Egypt after he landed in Cairo.

About two weeks ago, Haaretz reported that King Abdullah of Jordan would be working to defuse the tensions between Abbas and Sissi. A senior Palestinian Authority official who is close to Abbas told Haaretz that the Palestinian president’s telephone conversation with Trump provided a push to Abbas and there would be no regional solution with Israel in the absence of direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

The Egyptians have denied reports of tensions with the Palestinians, claiming that the two sides continue to cooperate with one another. There have also been efforts to diffuse tensions, with the Egyptian president and the Jordanian king issuing a joint statement at the end of a summit meeting between them saying that the only solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a two-state solution involving the establishment of a Palestinian state.

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