Abbas to visit Cairo for first time in post-Mubarak era

PA president to meet Egypt's Tantawi to talk peace process, Hamas-Fatah unity; PA considers "international trusteeship" over Palestinian state.

Abbas311 reuters (photo credit: reuters)
Abbas311 reuters
(photo credit: reuters)
For the first time since Hosni Mubarak stepped down as president of Egypt, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is scheduled to visit Cairo on Wednesday for talks with Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, head of the Higher Council of the Egyptian Armed Forces.
Abbas’s planned visit to Cairo comes as PA officials announced that they were considering seeking “international trusteeship” over an independent Palestinian state that is declared on the pre- 1967 lines.
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Abbas’s talks in Cairo would focus on the status of the peace process with Israel and efforts to achieve reconciliation between his Fatah faction and Hamas, PA envoy to Egypt, Barakat al-Farra, announced.
Abbas maintained a very close relationship with Mubarak and the two met in Cairo only a few days before the popular uprising in Egypt began earlier this year.
This would be the first time that the PA president visits Egypt without meeting with Mubarak.
Last week, the Egyptians played host to top Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar, who also discussed with representatives of the new government the prospects for ending the dispute between his movement and Fatah.
Abbas’s two-day visit follows talks between senior Fatah and PA officials with Egyptian government officials.
The officials who were dispatched by Abbas to Cairo in recent weeks included Tayeb Abdel Rahim, Sakher Bsaiso, Nabil Sha’ath and Azzam al-Ahmed.
A PA official in Ramallah expressed concern over the recent rapprochement between Egypt and Hamas.
The official pointed out that the PA leadership was particularly concerned about reports that the Egyptian government was considering reopening the Rafah border crossing into the Gaza Strip without consulting with the PA.
The Egyptians are also reported to have agreed to Hamas’s demand to reopen the Egyptian embassy in Gaza City – a move the PA fears would “legitimize” Hamas’s control over the Gaza Strip.
Al-Farra said that Abbas would brief Tantawi on the details of his initiative to visit the Gaza Strip for talks with Hamas leaders on the formation of a new Palestinian government that would prepare for presidential and parliamentary elections. Nimer Hammad, political advisor to Abbas, said that the PA president’s talks would also focus on scenarios facing the Palestinians next September, when they plan to ask the UN Security Council to recognize a state on the pre-1967 lines.
Hammad said that the PA leadership was now considering various options as to what it should do in September if the peace talks with Israel fail.
He said that one of the options includes calling for international trusteeship over the Palestinian territories. He added that the PA was optimistic about the position of the Quartet members – the US, EU, Russia and the UN – regarding the establishment of a Palestinian state on the pre- 1967 lines. The Quartet is expected to meet in Mid-April to assess the status of the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
Hammad said that with the exception of the US, the rest of the Quartet members recognized the 1967 lines as the borders of a future Palestinian state.