Abbas, Sissi hold ‘reconciliation’ meeting in Egypt

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi held what Egyptian media called a “reconciliation” meeting in Cairo on Monday.

Relations between Egypt and Abbas’s administration have been tense over a range of issues, including Cairo’s contacts with the Hamas terror group in the Gaza Strip.

According to the PA official news outlet Wafa, during the meeting at the Heliopolis Palace in Cairo, the two leaders “coordinated their stances” on Palestinian issues, including the realization of a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

The meeting came as preparations were being made for the Arab League summit in Jordan on March 29, as well as trips to Washington for the two leaders, both scheduled for April.

The summit came after US President Donald Trump president waded into the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict, sending one of his top advisers to the region last week for talks with Abbas, Jordanian King Abdullah II and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (right) meets with Jason Greenblatt, the US president's assistant and special representative for international negotiations, at Abbas's office in the West Bank city of Ramallah, March 14, 2017. (WAFA)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (right) meets with Jason Greenblatt, the US president’s assistant and special representative for international negotiations, at Abbas’s office in the West Bank city of Ramallah, March 14, 2017. (WAFA)

The PA’s foreign ministry called the meeting between Sissi and Abbas “a bilateral response to all those who have tried to put into question the deep, strong and lasting historical relationship between the Egyptian Arab Republic and the state of Palestine, or to obfuscate the existing harmony between presidents Sissi and Abbas.”

Relations between the two soured when Egypt in December withdrew a draft resolution in the UN Security Council against Israeli settlements. The draft was later re-submitted by other countries and adopted by the council.

In late February, senior Palestinian official Jibril Rajoub was denied entry to Egypt, prompting a Palestinian delegation to withdraw in protest from a counterterrorism conference he was set to attend.

Abbas later claimed the barring of Rajoub from Egypt was the result of a mixup.

Egypt and the PA have also been at odds over Cairo’s warm relations with Abbas’s rival Mohammad Dahlan, with whom the PA president has been warring since he expelled Dahlan from the Palestinian territories in 2012.

Osama Qawasmeh, spokesman for Abbas’s Fatah faction, said on Monday that relations with Cairo have been “a little bit cold” recently, but the time was right to “restore this very important and strategic relationship.”

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