TEL AVIV – Egyptian President Abdel Fatah Sisi’s meeting with his Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas failed to yield a breakthrough in mending the sour relations between the two, a senior Egyptian Foreign Ministry official told Breitbart Jerusalem.
The two leaders met thanks to Jordan’s King Abdullah, who tried to mediate between them ahead of the Arab League summit that his country will host next week, the source said, and following a request by the American administration that wishes to pave the way for a resumption of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
Abbas told Sisi that despite the great strategic role that the Palestinian Authority sees in Egypt’s involvement, it cannot accept Cairo’s sponsorship of Mohammed Dahlan, his main rival in the Palestinian leadership, as well as their overt cooperation with Hamas, the source said.
Earlier this year, Breitbart Jerusalem reported that the PA follows the thaw between Egypt and Hamas with great concern, as the former sought to engage the latter in its war against jihadists in Sinai, who operate close to the Gaza border.
In exchange for their cooperation, Cairo promised Hamas a string of gestures and joint ventures along the Rafah crossing with a view to alleviate the economic crisis that has gripped the Strip. Already then, PA officials estimated that Sisi’s overtures towards Hamas are meant as a punishment for Abbas’ refusal to reconcile with Dahlan.
Abbas told Sisi during the meeting that Dahlan’s scheming exacerbates the divide within Fatah and stymies Egypt’s efforts to put an end to the infighting within Fatah.
The source also said that Abbas protested Egypt’s rapprochement to Hamas and the efforts it had undertaken to create a free trade zone along the Egypt-Gaza border.
“Sisi promised Abbas that he has no intention to strengthen Hamas at the expense of the PA, and that the gestures were strictly humanitarian,” he said. “Sisi made clear that Egypt remains committed to the Arab and international stance that Abbas and the PA are the sole representatives of the Palestinian people.”
However, he said, Egypt rejected Abbas’s request to end all dealings with Dahlan and Hamas. The dealings, the source said, “are meant to help the civilians and form a united front against [Islamic State],” which, according to the source, prevents a Palestinian power sharing agreement from happening.
Abbas’ spokesperson Nabil Abu Rudeina said in a statement that “the PA’s relations with Egypt are of paramount strategic importance, and all efforts to undermine them will fail.”