Egypt minister condemns Palestinian deaths

AFP , Monday 26 Aug 2013

Egypt's foreign minister Nabil Fahmi meets with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah hours before deadly attack

Egypt's foreign minister condemned Israel's killing of three Palestinians on Monday and vowed to work on for inter-Palestinian reconciliation, as he held talks in the West Bank town of Ramallah.

"We condemn the occupation forces' killing of three people from Qalandiya refugee camp," Nabil Fahmi told a joint news conference with his Palestinian counterpart Riyad al-Malki.

Fahmi met Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas at his headquarters in Ramallah just hours after Israeli security forces shot dead three Palestinians in a clash in Qalandiya camp.

"The continuation of violence and settlement expansion decreases the chances of success for negotiations, which we hope will succeed," he said.

Peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators expected on Monday were cancelled after the violence, Palestinian officials said, with no new date set.

Fahmi also expressed Egypt's support for "Palestinian reconciliation, which the Palestinians must reach," describing the process as a "big challenge."

Abbas's Fatah party and Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, have been at odds since the Islamist movement's takeover of the Strip in 2007, but they have been trying to heal the rift since signing an Egypt-brokered reconciliation deal in 2011.

Fahmi said Egypt was dedicated to "securing the borders and ensuring Gaza's safety.

"There is an interest in guaranteeing that Palestinians (in Gaza) do not suffer, and (we will) exert every effort to ease (movement) and manage the crossing," he said.

Egypt partially reopened the Rafah crossing with Gaza on Saturday, more than a week after it closed the Palestinian territory's only land passage that bypasses Israel, then citing security reasons after deadly violence across the country.

The closure left hundreds of Palestinians stranded on both sides.

Hamas is allied with the Muslim Brotherhood of deposed Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi, who the army ousted in a July 3 coup.

A subsequent, bloody army crackdown on Brotherhood supporters sparked clashes that killed hundreds of people.

Fahmi said the Egyptian authorities were in contact with Hamas, which is allied with the Muslim Brotherhood.

"Hamas is present in Gaza, and Gaza is on the Egyptian border, so it's natural that there are communications and (mutual) arrangements," he said.

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