Egypt's FM fast tracks the Palestinian reconciliation cause

Dina Ezzat, Wednesday 27 Apr 2011

Egypt’s FM is eager to reduce the tough measures imposed on the Gaza borders but treads carefully not to favour Hamas over Ramallah

Nabil Elaraby
Egypt's Foreign Minister Nabil Elaraby (Photo: Reuters)

Foreign Minister Nabil El-Arabi is planning a visit to Jordan and the Palestinian Territories in the first week of May, a foreign ministry source told Ahram Online.

The source said that El-Arabi is prioritising the cause of reconciliation despite the reality that it’s a terribly challenging mission to accomplish. The foreign minister, the source added, believes that achieving reconciliation would help Egypt with two missions: the first is to ease Palestinian’s humanitarian suffering in Gaza and the second to pursue new and effective peace negotiations with Israel.

Despite the total separation between Gaza, under the rule of Hamas, and Ramallah, under the rule of the Fattah-dominated Palestinian Authority (PA), Cairo is keen to include the PA in its plans to reduce the volume of tough measures imposed on the Gaza borders with the Egyptian city of Rafah – the only non-Israeli exit that Gaza has to the outer world.

"It is true that we want to help the Palestinians in Gaza, but we are also keen not to be seen siding with Hamas against Ramallah," the same source added.

El-Arabi, according to the same source, is planning to visit Ramallah and not Gaza. "This is the plan so far," he said.

Meanwhile, Egypt has been telling both Hamas and Fattah that the time has come for them to end their four year-long split to prepare for a joint position on a possible settlement with Israel that Cairo is trying to push with Washington and other concerned regional and world capitals.

Ramallah would be the second stop after a visit to Amman where the foreign minister will discuss with top Jordanian officials the two issues of Palestinian reconciliation and future peace talks.

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