The cause of the Palestinian people has always been on top of Egypt’s political agenda, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said in an address through a video link to the Palestinian unity government, which, for the first time in three years, is on a visit to Gaza to restart reconciliation talks.
”Egypt has always, despite its enormous challenges, been the main supporter of the legitimate demands of the Palestinian people. The Palestinian cause has been one of Egypt’s top priorities during meetings with world leaders or through Egypt’s participation in international forums,” Sisi said.
In a new effort towards reconciliation between the Fatah leadership on the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza, meetings are currently being held between the parties in Gaza.
“We return to Gaza in order to conclude reconciliation and national unity and end the painful impacts of divisions and to rebuild Gaza brick by brick,” Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said, Reuters reports.
After Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates imposed economic sanctions against Qatar, Hamas’ main financial supporter, over allegations of supporting regional terrorist groups, Hamas decided to dissolve its shadow government in Gaza last month.
The move by Hamas is seen as the most important step towards Palestinian reconciliation since the unity government was established in 2014.
In his address, which was published on the Facebook page of the Spokesperson to the President, Sisi urged the parties to set aside differences and move towards unity.
“Allow me to tell you that today the entire world looks forward to your efforts in achieving reconciliation between the Palestinian people and appreciates your resolve to overcome all obstacles that have caused discord and division.”
The President also underscored that differences between Hamas and Fatah should be resolved between the parties themselves, without undue external interference.
“I have full faith that, with the support and backing of their Arab brothers, the differences between the components of Palestinian society must be resolved within the Palestinian domain, while intervention by any external forces ought not [to] be accepted,” he went on to say.
In a sign of Egypt’s eagerness to support Palestinian unity, Sisi sent the head of the country’s General Intelligence Services, Khaled Fawzi, to attend the meetings between the Palestinian factions, according to al-Masry al-Youm.
On his part, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas expressed his gratitude towards Egypt’s efforts to support reconciliation between the rival Fatah and Hamas.
“We do not accept any interference from any country in our internal Palestinian affairs, except for Egypt, because its interference is accepted by all parties involved, whether us [Fatah] or Hamas,” he said in an interview on Egyptian TV in Ramallah.
Egypt has, in the past months, sponsored deliberations between the Palestinians in efforts to push the national reconciliation process forward. The country has also tried to restart peace talks between the Palestinians and Israel.
Although the reconciliation talks are viewed as a positive step towards Palestinian unity, they have already experienced their first sign of trouble.
On Tuesday, Hamas announced that it would not accept giving up its weapons arsenal, a key demand that both Fatah and Israel have put forth in order for talks to move forward.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniye justified the decision by pointing out that “as long as there is occupation on the ground, our people have the right to possess weapons and resist the occupation with all forms of resistance”.
Haniya said, during the meeting with Fawzi, that his movement wants to start a “new page” with Egypt to advance new strategic relations.”
It is our responsibility from a religious perspective, as well as from a nationalistic, patriotic and humanitarian perspective, to protect Egypt,” he added.