Palestinian President Heads to Jordan and Egypt for Meetings With Leaders

Jack Khoury
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Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas chairs a meeting of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee at the Palestinian Authority headquarters in Ramallah on October 3, 2019.
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas chairs a meeting of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee at the Palestinian Authority headquarters in Ramallah on October 3, 2019.Credit: Abbas Momani / AFP
Jack Khoury

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will leave Ramallah for the first time since May, where he has been maintaining strict social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic, to meet with King Abdullah of Jordan in Amman on Sunday and later fly to Cairo Monday for a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi.

Abbas is slated to discuss regional developments following the election of Joe Biden with his Egyptian and Jordanian counterparts. Last week, Haaretz reported that Abbas's team is hoping to coordinate a first phone call with President-elect  Biden, after positive messages were exchanged between the sides. Abbas will likely also be briefed on the conversation King Abdullah had last week with Biden.

Talks with Sissi will likely center around Egyptian-mediated negotiations between Hamas and Israel, as well as other issues concerning the Gaza Strip.

"Abu Mazen [Abbas] departs after a difficult period of Arab nations signing normalization deals with Israel. The Palestinian leadership is alone in the battlefield and so coordination with Jordan and Egypt is crucial at this stage," a Palestinian official told Haaretz.

The Palestinian leadership seeks to guarantee a clear position regarding the two-state solution, settlements and the promotion of an international peace summit, said the official, adding that Abbas discussed an international peace conference and a return to negotiations with German Chancellor Angela Merkel last week.

Sources close to Abbas say he has stayed in Ramallah due to the coronavirus pandemic, stressing that he is 85 years old. But officials in Ramallah have noted that the timing of Abbas's tour coincides with recent news that the Palestinian Authority would resume security coordination with Israel, the halting of which Abbas had announced in May – leaving Ramallah for meetings abroad during this time would have required Abbas to coordinate with Israel.

Unlike Abbas, other senior Palestinian officials have held meetings outside Ramallah since May, including a Fatah delegation led by Jibril Rajoub to Cairo, Damascus and Istanbul.

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