PA leader set to meet Egyptian president, Hamas chief Haniyeh and other faction heads in latest bid to patch up rift
CAIRO — Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas arrived in El Alamein in Egypt Saturday, the news agency Wafa said, ahead of unity talks between Palestinian factions boycotted by the Islamic Jihad terror group.
The Palestinian news agency said that as well as chairing Sunday’s meeting of the heads of Palestinian factions Abbas “is scheduled to meet with his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah el-Sissi.”
Last week, PIJ leader Ziyad al-Nakhalah made his group’s participation in the talks conditional on the release of its members and those of other factions detained by PA security forces in the West Bank.
In a statement to AFP Saturday, Islamic Jihad official Mohammad al-Hindi again denounced “continued political detention and prosecution of the resistance.”
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine terror group is also boycotting the talks.
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Sunday’s meeting will include the heads of other political factions, including Hamas terror group leader Ismail Haniyeh.
File: Mahmoud Abbas, left, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, center, and Ismail Haniyeh meeting in Ankara July 26, 2023. (Turkish Presidency)
Both Abbas and Haniyeh met in Ankara on Wednesday in the run-up to Sunday’s crucial meeting. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has good relations with both, hosted the talks and said his government will do its best to push for intra-Palestinian reconciliation.
A Palestinian official, speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to the media, said the talks aim to “end the divisions [between factions] in preparation for a unified Palestinian government and presidential and general elections.”
Haniyeh’s spokesman Taher al-Nunu told AFP that Hamas sought to “unify the Palestinian position” under a strategic plan to “confront the Israeli occupation in light of the aggression of its extremist government.”
Since Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, the Islamist movement has been at loggerheads with Abbas’s secular Fatah which administers Palestinian-run areas of the West Bank, which Israel’s military has controlled since the 1967 Six Day War.
Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune (C) poses for photographs with Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh (L) and Azzam al-Ahmad, a Fatah Central Committee member, in Algiers, October 12, 2022. (Algerian Presidency via AFP)
Attempts to end the more than 15-year Fatah-Hamas rift saw leading figures from both movements sign a reconciliation deal in Algiers last year, promising long-delayed Palestinian elections in 2023.
The meeting comes as tensions in the West Bank have soared over the past year, with the Israel Defense Forces carrying out near-nightly raids amid a series of deadly Palestinian terror attacks in Israel and the West Bank that have killed 25 people since the beginning of the year.
According to a tally by The Times of Israel, 160 West Bank Palestinians have been killed since the beginning of the year — most of them during clashes with security forces or while carrying out attacks, but some were uninvolved civilians and others were killed under unclear circumstances.
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