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Cairo ready to host national Palestinian dialogue: Egypt intelligence chief to Islamic Jihad delegation

Ahram Online , Wednesday 16 Nov 2016
Ramadan Challah
File Photo: Palestine's Islamic Jihad organization secretary general Ramadan Challah (Photo: Al-Ahram)

Cairo ready to host and sponsor a national dialogue between different Palestinian political forces, Egypt’s general intelligence chief told a Palestinian Islamic Jihad delegation on Wednesday during a Cairo meeting.

On Wednesday, Egypt’s general intelligence chief Khaled Fawzy received in a Cairo meeting the leading Palestinian Islamist organisation’s secretary general Ramadan Challah.

According to state-owned MENA agency, both sides discussed developments related to the Palestinian cause, where Challah updated Fawzy on the organisation’s efforts and suggestions for a Palestinian reconciliation.

Fawzy said the Palestinian cause remains a priority for Egyptian foreign policy, stressing on Egypt’s keenness on the unity of Palestinian forces, as well as its support to all efforts related to achieving the independence of the Palestinian people.

The Egyptian official mentioned the opening of the Rafah border with Gaza for humanitarian relief and said that there will be further efforts undertaken by the Egyptian side.

On Sunday, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi ordered the opening of the border crossing for four days; from Monday till Friday.

The Rafah crossing is the only way for the 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza who have been living under Israeli siege since 2006 to enter and exit the strip.

Challah and his accompanying delegation talked of the “circumstances that the Palestinians were facing in Gaza strip and what the occupation forces were doing in terms of oppressive policies and procedures.”

The delegation praised Egypt’s role in working towards Palestinian unity, welcoming Egypt’s decision on the opening of the border crossing.

The Palestinian officials also called on the opening of the crossing on a permanent basis to lessen the suffering of the Palestinian people.

Cairo has upgraded its relationships with the Islamic Jihad movement, a competitor of Hamas, since the Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip in 2014.

Cairo mediated a ceasefire at the time between Israel and the Palestinians through direct talks with Islamic Jihad, and not Hamas.

Last May, a delegation from the Islamist organisation conducted talks with Egyptian general intelligence officials on reconciliation efforts among various rival Palestinian factions.

A general conference of all factions was to be held in Cairo within a month of the May visit to announce the completion of reconciliation talks between all three movements, yet it was never held.

Relations between Fatah and Hamas, the two leading Palestinian factions, have been strained since the two groups faced off in violent clashes in Gaza in 2005 following Hamas' victory in Palestinian general elections the same year.

Since then, the Islamist Hamas has ruled the Gaza Strip, while Fatah, which is backed by various Arab and Western governments, has controlled the occupied West Bank.

Israel has maintained an air-sea-ground siege of the Gaza Strip since 2006 to isolate Hamas.

Cairo has maintained an affirmative sponsorship of the peace process, with President El-Sisi making a call in early May calling for Palestinian reconciliation.

El-Sisi addressed Israeli and Palestinian leaders, stressing that peace, prosperity and cooperation would only take place if both parties are able to reach a two-state solution.

The address was welcomed by Israel, Fatah and Hamas.

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