A prominent Egyptian commentator on Palestinian affairs has claimed that the President of the Palestinian Authority is linking the lifting of the blockade on Gaza to the return of the PA-led government to the beleaguered territory. Ibrahim Darawy confirmed that President Mahmoud Abbas told the Egyptian leadership to remember the importance of the Palestinian Authority during its talks about lifting the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip. According to Mr. Darawy, President Abbas stressed the recognition by the international community of the PA's legitimacy and the need for straight talking to ensure his return in Gaza and the extension of the rule of Salam Fayyad's government in Ramallah to cover the Gaza Strip.
In an exclusive statement to Quds Press, Mr. Darawy said that Abbas, who is backed by some moderate Arab countries, exerted "huge" pressure on the Arab League's General Secretary, Amr Moussa, when he announced that he was going to visit Gaza. Darawy insisted that Abbas was given a clear promise by Moussa that he would not visit any of the institutions of Ismail Haniyeh's government so as not to give it legitimacy. Hence, although Mr. Moussa did meet the Hamas Prime Minister (who won the democratic elections in all of Palestine) the meeting took place in the latter's home. Arab and international requirements for the lifting of the siege of Gaza insist on Palestinian Authority rule over the Strip.
"These conditions set by Abbas actually hamper any reconciliation effort aiming to end division and achieve unity between the West Bank and Gaza Strip," said Mr. Darawy.
The Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak, met Mahmoud Abbas on 15 June in Sharm El-Sheikh, when they held talks on the visits made by President Abbas to Turkey, the United States, Spain and France. The two leaders also considered the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip and the efforts to lift it, in addition to the Israeli attack on the Freedom Flotilla.