Palestinian President, Mahmoud_Abbas - CC via wikimedia commons
CAIRO – 3 October 2017: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said that there is no other country as vital to the Palestinian cause as Egypt due to its historical and political position in the region.
“Egypt has an opinion, a position and an interest in the Palestinian cause,” said Abbas.
Abbas pointed out that the Palestinian reconciliation is an opportunity that may not be replicated, adding that he believes that “there is no state in Gaza, and no state without Gaza."
The Palestinian President comments came during an interview with the Egyptian prominent TV talk show host Amr Adeeb on Monday on ON Live channel. The interview took place at the Palestinian National Authority headquarter in Ramallah, Palestine.
Abbas added that the geographical connection and national security make it imperative for Egypt to support the Palestinian unity. This allows a more pivotal role of Egypt than any other country especially Qatar, who has a long standing relation with Hamas, and who also presented itself previously as a mediator to end the Palestinian rift, and failed.
He added that Egypt is also suffering from the Palestinian split, which is affecting its national security in the form of threats in Sinai, as a result of smuggled weapons through the tunnels on the border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip.
Abbas also explained that since the internal conflict in 2007, the Palestinian Authority approached the Arab League and requested its mediation to resolve this conflict. The Arab League then delegated this role to Egypt, and since 2007 Egypt has been endlessly working to end the Palestinian rift.
On Egypt’s role in the last period, he said that Egypt hosted Hamas’ political bureau for talks and insisted on overcoming all challenges that hinder the reconciliation and unity, including the administrative committee formed by Hamas in the Gaza Strip that replaced the legitimate government.
Once Hamas agreed to reconcile, Abbass said that he announced it during the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York during September.
On the general elections that Hamas called for on September 17, Abbas said that Hamas has the right to rule, if it succeeds in elections, as this is democracy. He added, “I do not have an objection if the government and/or the presidency was handed to Hamas. If Palestinians want it so, then let it be and I will congratulate Hamas on its victory.”
“In 2006, when Hamas won the elections, I congratulated them and they formed the government,” he explained.
Abbas stressed that national unity is vital and precious, explaining that there may be some individuals or groups who would opt to stop the reconciliation, as it could cost them dearly if national unity translates on the ground. He added that all topics and issues related to the reconciliation are clear; Hamas agreed to them, and Egypt will oversee the application of the agreement. The coming period will witness series of meetings between Hamas and Fatah in Egypt to discuss all the necessary details following the consensus government’s visit to the Gaza Strip on Monday.
On the next steps coming in the near future, Abbas said that the national consensus government is expected to run and assume its responsibilities in the Gaza Strip on the same level as it runs in the West Bank. Those responsibilities include running the ministries, the borders, crossing points, and security which will take some time, according to Abbas.
As for the American, Qatari and Turkish positions on the reconciliation, the Palestinian President said: "America does not mind what is happening and I understand that it is an agreement. I thanked Trump for his efforts to push the reconciliation and the peace process with Israel.” As for Qatar and Turkey, they did not comment on the achieved progress in the national reconciliation process.
When asked about the peace talks with Israel, Abbas said that once the reconciliation is finalized, Hamas will be part of the negotiation talks with Israel. He added that Hamas already signed some agreements with Israel during the ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi’s term under U.S. auspices, and in the presence of Hillary Clinton.
Despite a number of attempts to reconcile the Palestinian split led by international and Arab efforts, only Egypt with its historical and political position was able to bring an end to this nightmare. Egypt managed to bring the conflicting Palestinian factions to overcome their differences and to create new conditions away from the fear of exclusion. Egypt helped the factions realize that they need to move forward towards a partnership based on the fact that Palestine is for all Palestinians.
On September 17, Hamas movement announced the dissolution of its administrative committee in the Gaza Strip, and invited the Consensus Government’s Prime Minister Ramy al-Hamdallah to visit Gaza and assume his duties in the Strip. Hamas also called for holding general elections in Palestine. Furthermore, the movement confirmed complying with the Cairo reconciliation accords of 2011.
On October 3, the consensus government will hold its first cabinet meeting from Gaza. The consensus government is expected to form a number of ministerial committees to address the effects and consequences of the internal division as well as other civil, administrative, and legal issues arising from the split.