Abbas and Sisi discuss peace process

PA chairman meets Egyptian President to discuss Israel-PA peace talks as well as Egypt's buffer zone in Gaza.

Ben Ariel ,

Mahmoud Abbas
Mahmoud Abbas

Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday met Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Cairo, the Ma’an news agency reported.

Among other things, Sisi’s spokesman Alaa Yousef said, the two discussed peace talks between the PA and Israel as well as the situation in Gaza.

Yousef said Abbas and Sisi had agreed that all practices that "create more tension" should be halted, including the construction of “Israeli settlements”, according to Ma’an.

They agreed that an end to these practices could pave the way for the resumption of peace talks between Israel and the PA.

The two leaders also discussed ongoing activities on Egypt's eastern borders, where Egypt created a wide buffer zone in a bid to destroy the hundreds of smuggling tunnels it says are used by terrorists to deliver weapons to jihadists in the Sinai peninsula.

According to Ma’an, Sisi told Abbas that activities along the border were intended "to secure the borders," and were being carried out in full coordination with the PA.

These activities "could never be meant to harm the Palestinian brothers in the Gaza Strip," Sisi stressed.

The Egyptian president added that if the PA were to take control of the Gaza Strip -- which is currently controlled by Hamas -- it could improve living conditions in Gaza and allow for borders to operate "normally," allowing the people of Gaza their daily needs.

The decision on the buffer zone was made following two deadly attacks in October in El-Arish, which killed dozens of soldiers and were claimed by Egypt’s deadliest terrorist group, Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis.

Egyptian sources revealed that Hamas terrorists had provided the weapons for the lethal attacks in El-Arish through one of its smuggling tunnels, a charge which Hamas denies.

Sisi has in the past declared that the security measures taken by his country along the border with Gaza were not aimed at "harming" Palestinians, even though human rights groups have warned that Egypt has evicted thousands of families as part of work on the buffer zone.