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“Atmosphere of war” makes it hard to talk about negotiations and reconciliation

February 27, 2014 at 12:07 pm

An Egyptian journalist and political activist has ruled out any swift resumption of talks between the Israelis and the Palestinian Authority, despite increasing pressure on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The reason, says Abdel Halim Kandil, is Israel’s “policy of provocation” across the occupied territories.

In a statement to Quds Press, the Editor-in-Chief of Egyptian newspaper Al Karama, downplayed the importance of Abbas’ latest visit to Egypt. President Abbas arrived in Cairo on Monday 1 March. He will hold discussions with Egyptian officials on the American initiative that proposes US-sponsored direct negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis for a 3-year period with the aim of reaching peace and solving the current problems that separate the two parties.

“It’s known that Egypt has for some time put pressure on the Palestinian Authority to convince it to open the door to negotiations with Israel,” said Mr. Kandil. Moreover, although he thinks that President Abbas doesn’t need pressure from Egypt, there is a problem with developments on the ground, which make it difficult for the PA to resume talks. “Especially,” he added, “with the current developments with the Ibrahimi Mosque, Bilal Mosque and Al Aqsa Mosque.” As a result, Mr. Kandil believes that the issue of negotiations will be postponed temporarily until the circumstances change for the better. In his opinion, it is Israel’s actions on the ground that are stopping Abbas from going back to the negotiation table, not the “heroic” positions taken by Egypt and the Palestinian President.


Kandil noted that the atmosphere prevailing in the region these days is one of war, not one in which people can think about resuming negotiations. “This is obvious from the threats that are being exchanged between Israel and Hizbullah in Lebanon, and the meetings that took place in Damascus and Tehran.”

With regards to Palestinian reconciliation, Kandil said that Egypt has not closed its doors on the leaders of Hamas. Egypt’s policy, he added, is not one of closed doors, but it takes into account US and Israeli priorities, which is why the relationship between Cairo and Hamas has been low key with no real breakthrough. “Hamas is not just concerned about modifications and guarantees,” he said, “but it regards the current situation as unsuitable for any reconciliation agreements with Fatah.”