Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and Jordanian monarch Abdullah II in Cairo on Thursday in the first trilateral meeting between the parties since 2017.
Abbas has shuttled back and forth between Amman and Ramallah several times in recent months for lightning visits with Abdullah. The PA leader also met with Sissi last year.
But a trilateral meeting has not taken place since 2017, when the three met on the sidelines of the Arab League’s annual summit.
“We still extend our hand for comprehensive, just peace according to international law and under the Quartet framework,” Abbas said in remarks carried by the official Palestinian Authority WAFA news agency.
The Palestinian leader was joined by close advisers Hussein al-Sheikh and Majdi Khalidi, as well as PA intelligence chief Majed Faraj.
Senior Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmad told Voice of Palestine Radio on Wednesday that the meeting would enable the three sides to push for an “international conference” to establish a Palestinian state. Abbas has occasionally spoken about the idea over the past year.
Al-Ahmad added that the meeting also would allow the three sides to coordinate their message ahead of the United Nation General Assembly meeting later this month.
In a closing statement from the parties, the three leaders vowed to retain their commitment to a two-state solution, with an independent state of Palestine in the West Bank and Gaza that has its capital in East Jerusalem.
Sissi has invited Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to Cairo in the coming weeks for a rare Israeli state visit to the Egyptian capital, according to Bennett’s office.
Abbas also met with Defense Minister Benny Gantz in Ramallah last week, in the highest level face-to-face meeting of Israeli and Palestinian officials in years. The meeting engendered harsh criticism of Abbas from his rivals in Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and similar criticism of Gantz from the Israeli hard right.
The meetings come as Ramallah has faced criticism abroad over its human rights record and accusations of poor governance. Many Palestinians see the PA as weak, corrupt and unable to achieve their dream of an independent state.
The PA has also seen its regional star dwindle, with Arab governments forging increasingly close ties with Israel. As of June 2021, Ramallah had received no funding from fellow Arab states so far this year, according to publicly available PA Finance Ministry filings.
Abbas also met with Sissi before the planned trilateral summit to discuss “the latest political developments, as well as the internal Palestinian situation, and the developments across occupied Palestinian lands,” according to a statement by his office.
A spokesperson for Sissi said that the Egyptian leader expressed his support for the Palestinian Authority, especially its role in Gaza, as well as strengthening the ceasefire between “the Palestinian and Israeli sides.”
Sissi “stressed the importance of joining efforts in order to support the Palestinian position towards a political settlement and push for the resumption of negotiations,” the spokesperson said.