Abbas on regional tour ahead of Arab Summit

Abbas and Qatari Emir talk Fatah-Hamas reconciliation; Sisi and Palestinian leader to try to mend differences.

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March 19, 2017 17:23
2 minute read.
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Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (R) meets with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Cairo, January 14, 2015. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani on Sunday ahead of the Arab League Summit in Jordan at the end of March.

An official statement published by Wafa, the official PA news agency, said the two leaders discussed recent developments in the Palestinian territories and Qatari-Palestinian relations, without elaborating on details.

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Fatah Central Committee member Abbas Zaki told The Jerusalem Post that the meeting between Abbas and Tamim dealt with Arab world’s position on the Palestinian issue.

“President Abbas passed along a message to the Qatari Emir that we expect the Arab world to treat the Palestinian issue as the primary issue in the region,” Zaki said in a telephone interview.

Abbas and Tamim also discussed national reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas and Qatar’s efforts to bring to the rival parties together, Zaki added.

Qatar, which hosts Hamas’s diaspora leadership, has convened a number of unsuccessful reconciliation talks and meetings over the past year.
Qatar donated $12 million of fuel to offset Gaza power shortage (credit: REUTERS)

On Monday, Abbas and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi are slated to meet in Cairo amid efforts to reconcile the two leaders.



Differences between the two over the past year led to a deterioration in ties between Ramallah and Cairo, culminating in Egyptian authorities in February barring the entry of top Fatah official Jibril Rajoub to the Egyptian capital.

The main differences between the leaders pertain to Egypt’s close relationship with Abbas’s rival Muhammad Dahlan, Egypt’s decision to withdraw a UN Security Council resolution critical of settlements in December and Egyptian- Israeli coordination on the peace process without including the Palestinian leadership.

“I think the meeting will smoothen relations between the two leaders, but I am not sure how long that will last,” Ghassan Khatib, vice president of Bir Zeit University, said in a phone interview.

Abbas and Sisi may choose to ignore certain differences and instead focus on shared concerns such as coordinating their positions before meeting with the Trump administration, Khatib said.

Sisi is expected to meet with US President Donald Trump in the beginning of April, while Abbas is reportedly scheduled to meet the US leader in mid-April.

Trump has spoken of a regional plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which would theoretically include Egypt, the Palestinian Authority and a number of other regional parties.

“It’s actually a much bigger deal – a much more important deal in a sense. It would take in many, many countries and would cover a very large territory,” Trump said of a regional deal, during a White House press conference with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The last time Sisi and Abbas met was during a meeting of the African Union in Addis Ababa in late January.

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