Egypt’s Sissi: Fatah-Hamas unity a prelude to Israeli-Palestinian peace
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Egypt’s Sissi: Fatah-Hamas unity a prelude to Israeli-Palestinian peace

Cairo's call for a 'new stage of unity' comes ahead of talks between PA and terror group later this week

A Hamas fighter stands next to a billboard bearing a portrait of Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi near the Palestinian government headquarters in Gaza City on October 3, 2017. (AFP Photo/Mohammed Abed)
A Hamas fighter stands next to a billboard bearing a portrait of Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi near the Palestinian government headquarters in Gaza City on October 3, 2017. (AFP Photo/Mohammed Abed)

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi on Sunday said the current Egypt-backed reconciliation talks between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas are “preparation” for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.

“Ongoing Egyptian moves to help our Palestinian brothers start a new stage of unity in the Palestinian ranks is preparation for a just peace between Palestinian and Israeli sides, and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state to meet legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people for a secure, stable and prosperous life,” Sissi said during a cabinet meeting, according to a statement published by his official spokesperson.

Egypt was set to host delegations from the rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas later this week, as the two sides continue to negotiate the terms of a unity government that would see the PA assume civil control of the coastal enclave.

Despite Egypt throwing its weight behind Fatah-Hamas reconciliation, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has been reluctant in his support, saying any unity deal must lead to the PA assuming “full control” over the Strip and see the Hamas terror group cede its military arsenal.

Hamas, however, has been adamant it will not part from its weapons.

Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh (L) and Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah are seen together at Haniyeh’s office in Gaza City on October 3, 2017.(AFP Photo/Mohammed Abed)

Addressing the reconciliation efforts, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last week any future Palestinian government must disband the terror organization’s armed wing, sever all ties with Iran, and recognize the State of Israel.

Israel has fought three wars with Hamas since 2008.

Sissi, who last month met with Netanyahu on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, has stressed that he believes reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas could pave the way for Middle East peace.

“The whole world is waiting for your efforts to achieve reconciliation among the Palestinian people and appreciates your determination to address all obstacles,” Sissi said in a pre-recorded speech addressing the two main Palestinian movements last week.

Also last month, Sissi broke from his prepared remarks to the UN General Assembly in classical Arabic to address Israelis and Palestinians informally in colloquial Egyptian Arabic, saying they should take advantage of an opportunity that “may not be repeated.” Sissi also called on US President Donald Trump to take advantage of an opportunity that could “write a new page of the history of mankind by establishing peace in this region of the world.”

Fatah, the faction that controls the PA, and the Hamas terror group have been at loggerheads since Hamas violently took control of the Strip in 2007, with the two groups operating separate administrations. The factions have unsuccessfully attempted to reconcile a number of times in the past.

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