Egypt army chief holds talks with Palestinian president in Cairo
Ahram Online , Sunday 10 Nov 2013
Talks address developments in Israeli-occupied territories and matters affecting stability of Middle East; Abbas also met President Mansour

Egyptian army chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi held talks in Cairo with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday.

They discussed developments in the Middle East and their ramifications on peace and stability in the region, state news agency MENA reported.

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 country's interim authorities.

The official Palestinian Wafa news agency said Abbas would discuss US-sponsored efforts to revive peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, as well as reconciliation with the Gaza Strip, which borders Egypt and is ruled by the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Hamas movement, an arch rival of Abbas’ Fatah party.

Following the military's overthrow of Morsi in July amid mass protests against his rule, relations between Egypt's interim authorities and Hamas have worsened sharply. Tensions further heightened after a broad crackdown on cross-border smuggling tunnels between Egypt's Sinai desert and the Gaza Strip.

El-Sisi reiterated in the meeting that featured top military officials alongside a Palestinian delegation Egypt's support for Palestinians and their right to an independent state, MENA added.

Israel announced in August that it was expanding settlement building in the West Bank, a process which Palestinians say will undermine a future Palestinian state.

US Secretary of State John Kerry this week made his seventh trip to Israel and the West Bank to try to revive peace talks which have been stalled for three years.

Abbas also met with Egyptian interim president Adly Mansour on Sunday.

Egypt was the first Arab state to sign a peace treaty with Israel in 1979, in exchange for the state's pull-out from the Sinai Peninsula.

Egypt has taken on a strategic role in brokering deals with a divided government in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories, efforts applauded by the Palestinian head of state who kicked off his three-day trip on Saturday.

The West Bank and Gaza have been under divided Palestinian rule since 2007, when long-running tensions between Hamas and Fatah spilled over into fighting a year after the Islamist group won a surprise victory in legislative elections. Hamas seized control of Gaza at the end of the fighting, and Fatah supporters in the strip retreated to the West Bank.