Egypt continues to host talks among Palestinian factions as it meets with different parties to discuss a number of issues. At the top of the agenda are de-escalating tensions between Palestinian groups and Israel in Gaza, reconstruction there and intra-Palestinian coordination.
The latest of these meetings took place on Saturday night between the head of the Egyptian General Intelligence Service Abbas Kamel and a delegation from the Islamic Jihad movement, headed by its secretary-general Ziad Al-Nakhala. This was preceded by a meeting between Kamel and leaders of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which tackled a number of issues.
Maryam Abu Daqqa, a member of the political bureau of the PFLP, told Al-Ahram Weekly that Egypt is focusing on the Palestinian file, especially with regard to Palestinian reconciliation, calm in the Gaza Strip and the living conditions of Palestinians there.
Meetings between Abbas and PFLP leaders were “very positive”, she stressed. Reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas was discussed with participation from all Palestinian factions. Kamel and Egyptian officials discussed this file in detail, she added, saying that it was agreed to continue working on the Palestinian and Egyptian levels in order to end divisions and accomplish this critical national achievement.
The talks also tackled the relationship between Egypt and the PFLP in the next phase, with Egypt playing a special role in the Palestinian cause, Abu Daqqa continued. Regarding the Rafah crossing, which connects Egypt and the Gaza Strip, she said Egyptian officials have vowed to enhance work in this context, pointing out that the Egyptian promises will materialise in the next few days.
Abu Daqqa said that, according to Kamel, the Rafah crossing will witness positive developments in next few weeks and that travelling procedures to Egypt will be facilitated in the short term. She pointed out that the PFLP delegation and Egyptian officials discussed the Israeli siege imposed on the Gaza Strip and the truce with Israel, as well as the steps necessary to improve the living conditions of Gazans.
The Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) file and the possibility of implementing the agreements inked by Palestinian factions were also discussed, she said. Egypt is “serious about making achievements in all Palestinian files, from reconciliation and the truce with Israel to ending the Israeli siege of the Gaza Strip.”
Abu Daqqa added, “We all realise that Egypt is a source of power for us… Egyptian and Palestinian security issues are connected. What happens in Palestine affects the Arab region generally, and Egypt in particular.”
Egypt is heavily engaged “in separate talks with Palestinian factions. Unfortunately Egypt cannot at present gather all the factions in a meeting due to the different goals and political agendas of each party, especially Fatah and Hamas,” she pointed out.
“This collective meeting should have taken place following the latest military confrontation between Palestinian factions in Gaza and the Israeli army, but the factions’ different agendas prevented Egypt from organizing it,” she added, stressing that there should be comprehensive national dialogues based on the vision of all Palestinian groups, instead of bilateral talks based on single views.
Egypt did not find common ground between Palestinian factions on the basis of which it could hold a national meeting in Cairo, she said, “so it was pointless to hold a meeting that would not yield any results.”
Meanwhile, Nafez Azzam, a member of the political bureau of the Islamic Jihad, said Egypt had made solid promises to facilitate Palestinians’ movement through the Rafah crossing by increasing the number of travellers and easing the means of travel.
“The Jihad delegation discussed a number of files with the Egyptian General Intelligence Service, most importantly reconciliation and the Israeli siege of Gaza,” added Azzam, currently in Cairo to attend the talks.
“Egypt has taken steps on the ground regarding the reconstruction of Gaza,” he noted.
However, “the horizons of intra-Palestinian reconciliation remain unclear. The ball is in the Palestinians’ court and Egypt has promised to continue its efforts to restore domestic solidity,” Azzam said.
“The Jihad thanked Egypt for its efforts in the case of prisoners, especially during the latest [hunger] strike,” he added.
Jihad’s leading figure Dawoud Shehab said the meeting between Egypt’s Kamel and the movement’s Al-Nakhala tackled developments in the fight between the Palestinians and Israel as Kamel reviewed Egypt’s efforts to alleviate the Israeli siege and reconstruct Gaza.
Armed Palestinian factions in Gaza reached a ceasefire agreement in May through Egyptian and international mediation.
The Islamic Jihad’s Cairo visit is part of a series of meetings held in the Egyptian capital that are focused on reconciliation, reconstructing Gaza and de-escalating tensions between Israel and the Palestinians. The talks included a meeting between a Hamas delegation headed by Ismail Haniyeh and Egypt’s head of the General Intelligence Service for the same purpose.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 4 November, 2021 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly