Abbas to meet Sissi for talks on reconciliation with Hamas — PA official
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Abbas to meet Sissi for talks on reconciliation with Hamas — PA official

Nabil Shaath says PA president will look to Egyptian leader for new ideas as ‘things are not moving in the right direction’

Adam Rasgon is the Palestinian affairs reporter at The Times of Israel

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, left, greets Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during his inauguration ceremony at the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, on June 8, 2014. (AP/MENA)
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, left, greets Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during his inauguration ceremony at the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, on June 8, 2014. (AP/MENA)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will meet Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi in Egypt within the next two days to discuss reconciliation efforts between Hamas and Fatah, a senior Palestinian official said on Thursday.

The last publicly known time Abbas and Sissi met was November 3 in Sharm al-Sheikh, an Egyptian resort city.

“President Abbas is on his way to Egypt to meet President Sissi in the next two days,” Nabil Shaath, Abbas’s adviser for foreign affairs, told The Times of Israel. “He wants to ask him about what he thinks needs to be done on the matter of reconciliation because things are not moving in the right direction, especially after what Hamas did three days ago.”

Fatah officials have accused Hamas authorities in the Gaza Strip of having prevented Fatah members Monday from lighting a torch in Gaza City to commemorate the 54th anniversary of their party’s founding.

Speaking to Palestine TV, the official PA station, on Tuesday, Hussein al-Sheikh, a Fatah Central Committee member, accused Hamas of preventing the torch-lighting, contending that it had committed a “sin” and acted in an “anti-nationalist” manner.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas lighting a memorial torch in Ramallah early Tuesday. (photo credit: Hadas Parush/Flash90)

While the Hamas-run Interior Ministry in Gaza has not commented on the Fatah officials’ allegation, Husam Badran, a senior Hamas leader, has suggested Fatah did not ask the Hamas-run security forces for permission to light a torch on Monday.

“All parties are able to organize any event…as long as they follow the known legal procedures in the Gaza Strip,” Badran told Dunya al-Watan, a Gaza-based news site, on Tuesday.

Hamas and Fatah have been at loggerheads since 2007 when the former ousted the Fatah-dominated PA from Gaza.

While the rival parties have signed a number of agreements to advance reconciliation, they have failed to implement them. Most recently, Fatah and Hamas signed an Egyptian-sponsored reconciliation agreement in October 2017, but did not succeed in executing it on the ground.

Since a bomb exploded adjacent to PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah’s motorcade in March 2018 in Gaza, Ramallah-based ministers have not visited the coastal enclave. Abbas has accused Hamas of carrying out the bombing; the terror group has vehemently denied the charge.

In the recent past, Egypt has been the primary mediator between Hamas and Fatah.

Shaath also said Abbas and Sissi will discuss Israel’s recent advancement of more than 2,000 new settlement units. Last week, the Defense Ministry committee responsible for authorizing settlement construction advanced plans for nearly 2,200 homes in West Bank settlements.

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