On March 20, a meeting was held in Cairo between Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas. Qualified by the Palestinians as a warm and friendly encounter, the press release that followed was rather laconic.
Fatah Central Committee member Azzam Al-Ahmad who participated in the meeting reported to the Safa Palestinian News Agency that the two leaders had discussed the advancement of the peace process, the necessary preparations for the convening of the Arab League at the end of the month and their upcoming meetings with US President Donald Trump. Sisi will meet Trump at the beginning of April, and Abbas is supposed to make the trip to Washington in the middle of May.
However, the two did not limit themselves to exchanging views on the peace process and the new US president. A close associate of former Fatah senior member Mohammed Dahlan (Abbas’ bitter political rival) told Al-Monitor that Sisi finally agreed to meet with the Palestinian delegation after a year of disconnection only after it was made crystal clear to the Palestinians in preparatory talks that an Abbas-Dahlan conciliation was high on Sisi’s list. According to Dahlan’s associate (who spoke on the condition of anonymity), the Egyptians view the discord between the two Palestinian leaders as an “obtrusive obstacle.” Thus, relations between Cairo and the PA can only be tightened when this obstacle is overcome.
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