Egypt has expressed its full support for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the ongoing final status negotiations with Israel.
The negotiations “suggest that the opportunity still exists to achieve a historic breakthrough that could have positive implications on the future of the peace process and the region as a whole,” read a Monday statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It added that this could also contribute towards “easing polarisation and drying the sources of extremism”.
The ministry statement pointed out that Abbas and the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) have expressed their commitment to the “principles upon which the peace process, the Madrid Conference and the Arab Peace Initiative” and stressed Egypt’s support for all these initiatives. The ministry said this displays the PA President’s “real commitment and genuine will for peace based on the two-state solution”.
The final status negotiations between Palestine and Israel, which are sponsored by the United States, were announced in July 2013 with a nine-month deadline.
Over the course of the negotiations both sides have accused the other of not taking the talks seriously, and the Palestinian side rejected any notion of recognising Israel as a Jewish state or continuing talks beyond the 29 April deadline.
Abbas flew to Washington to meet with US President Barack Obama on Monday amid increasing international scepticism over the negotiations. US Secretary of State John Kerry and British Prime Minister David Cameron have both recently acknowledged the “mistrust” that exists between the two sides.
Obama is expected to “speak of the need to establish a framework for negotiations going forward” and the need for “additional tough decisions to be taken”, said Whitehouse Press Secretary Jay Carney on Friday.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Nabil Fahmy has previously called on Israel to cease its “negative policies” that he sees are preventing the talks from progressing. He pointed to the ongoing settlement activity in the West Bank and the suppression of Palestinian activists.
The ruling party in the Palestinian territory of the Gaza Strip, Hamas, rejected the talks, saying they go against “national consensus”. Hamas and Fatah, the leading party in the PA, are locked in an ongoing dispute, which is rooted in a year-long militarised conflict between the two factions following a 2006 Hamas election win in the Gaza Strip.
Fahmy confirmed Egypt’s support for Palestinian reconciliation in November and interim President Adly Mansour discussed Egypt’s role in the reconciliation process with Abbas during the latter’s visit to Cairo in December.
Last week a Hamas official said there could be no reconciliation with Fatah without Egypt’s sponsorship. In response a Fatah official said that Hamas did “not have the right” to decide on Egypt’s role in reconciliation. The spokesman for Egypt’s foreign ministry declined to comment on the issue.
An Egyptian court decided early in March to ban the activities of Hamas inside Egypt, ordering the seizure of the Muslim Brotherhood affiliate’s offices.
Relations between Hamas and Cairo have deteriorated rapidly since the ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013. During Morsi’s presidency, relations with Hamas strengthened, with the former president ordering aid to be sent to Gaza as well as facilitating the delivery of aid from Qatar.