Palestinian President Abbas in Cairo on 3-day visit

MENA, Ahram Online, AFP, Saturday 9 Nov 2013

Palestine's Mahmoud Abbas to brief Egypt's Adly Mansour on peace talks with Kerry

 Palestinian President Abbas
Egypt's interim President Adli Mansour meets with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the El-Thadiya presidential palace in Cairo July 29, 2013 (Photo: Reuters)

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas commences on Saturday a three-day visit in Cairo, during which he is intending to meet with a number of Egyptian officials, including interim President Adly Mansour. 

According to Cairo-based Palestinian Ambassador Barakat Al-Furra, Abbas plans to discuss various recent developments in Palestine with his Egyptian counterpart, including violations by Israeli forces in Jerusalem and the results of his meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry last Wednesday in the West Bank regarding the future of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.

Abbas will also meet with Defence Minister Abdel-Fatah El-Sisi, Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy, Secretary-General of the Arab League Nabil El-Arabi and Al-Azhar's Grand Imam Ahmed El-Tayeb. A press conference is scheduled to take place at the end of his visit. 

Earlier in November, Kerry commenced a tour of the Middle East, including visits to Egypt, Palestine, Jordan, Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Spokesman for Egypt's presidency Ihab Badawy said the meeting between the two Arab leaders comes "at a time when Egypt is regaining its regional role and status," which includes a long-standing role in supporting the Palestinian people and their right to a state.

However, Badawy expressed his doubt regarding the influence peace talks could have in the face of the ongoing establishing of illegal Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories, which the spokesman described as being "destructive to peace talks."

Additionally, Egypt's Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy told AFP on Saturday he was growing "skeptical" a deal could be reached due to settlement building.

Abbas "essentially accepted a historic compromise between the Palestinians and the Israelis and is simply asking for a contiguous state with East Jerusalem as its capital," Fahmy said.

"We are worried… but committed to trying to help as much as we can," Fahmy said.

The fragile talks have been threatened with collapse after Israel announced the building of 3,500 settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem after releasing 26 Palestinian prisoners.

Abbas' trip to Egypt is his second since the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi. He visited on 29 July in a show of support for the interim government.

In 1979, Egypt became the first Arab state to sign a peace deal with Israel in return for a withdrawal from the Sinai Peninsula, which was occupied five years before.

The Palestinian Authority strongly supported Morsi's ouster. During the Muslim Brotherhood leader's rule, Abbas criticised the government's ties with Gaza's Hamas - an ideological offshoot of the Brotherhood - denouncing Egypt's acknowledgment of Hamas as an official representative for Palestine.

Since 2007, the West Bank and Gaza have been under divided Palestinian rule, when long-standing animosity between Abbas' Fatah movement and Hamas resulted in violent conflict some 18 months after the Islamist group won an electoral victory.

Hamas seized control of Gaza, and Fatah retreated to the West Bank, with each setting up rival administrations in the two territories. There have been no elections since 2006, and Abbas has remained in office, despite the official expiry of his term in 2009.

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