Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi in Cairo Saturday amid reports of a new Egyptian peace initiative and French plans to hold a summit on renewing Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
The two discussed the Palestinian demand for a unified Arab front at the Paris summit on June 3, calling for an Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines and the establishment of a Palestinian state.
Israel and the PA will not take part in the conference. US Secretary of State John Kerry will attend, as will representatives of 20 countries, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan.
Abbas was set to meet with Arab League diplomats as they convened in Cairo later Saturday to discuss the Palestinian position ahead of the summit.
A senior Palestinian official told The Times of Israel that a meeting between Abbas and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu under Egyptian auspices was not currently on the table.
The official said the next steps in the diplomatic arena would become clearer after the French summit.
Israel has rejected the French initiative, saying direct negotiations are the only way to resolve the conflict with the Palestinians. The PA, however, has welcomed the plan.
Sissi earlier this month called for a renewal of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. The Egyptian president, together with John Kerry and former Quartet envoy Tony Blair, was reportedly among foreign leaders who pushed for Zionist Union chair Isaac Herzog to join Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government. Herzog-Netanyahu negotiations collapsed, however, when Netanyahu turned to Avigdor Liberman to expand his coalition.
A report in the Palestinian news agency Ma’an on Tuesday claimed that an Israeli delegation flew to Cairo to meet with senior officials in the Egyptian ministries of foreign affairs and defense. The delegation reportedly arrived in Cairo to prepare the ground for a meeting between Netanyahu and Sissi.