Mursi, Mashal and Abbas meeting in Egypt.
Christof Lehmann (nsnbc) Egypts President Mohammed Mursi has invited Hamas´ Khaled Mashal and a Hamas delegation for five days talks in Cairo. Mashal and Mursi meet on 9 January, discussing a wide range of issues, among other Palestinian national reconciliation. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has also been invited by his Egyptian counterpart and is likely to attend, at least unofficially.
The meeting is shrouded in an aura of mystery and vague statements; and for good reasons. Egypt is likely to apply pressure with regard to a free trade zone in the Sinai on Mahmoud Abbas. The planned free trade zone is a controversial issue which Fateh, PFLP and DFLP have criticized for weakening rather than strengthening the Palestinian cause and national unity.
According to and article on IMEMC the Egyptian Ambassador in Ramallah, Yasser Othman has informed the Turkish Anadolu News Agency that President Mursi has sent an official invitation to his Palestinian counterpart to visit Egypt on Wednesday, 9 January, to discuss “various issues” topped by Palestinian reconciliation.
Anadolu also reported that Azzam Al-Ahmad, a member of Fateh´s Central Committee, said that there so far have not been made arrangements, but that such a meeting is likely because there, in principle, is no reason for not holding it. Al-Ahmad however, is also quoted for having said that Mahmoud Abbas will be heading to Cairo on an official visit, based on Mursi´s invitation. The Hamas delegation, headed by Khaled Mashal, arrived in Cairo on Tuesday.
The meetings are likely to address some of the most controversial issues which are of vital importance for the future of Palestine. In 2012 Hamas, in spite of protest from Fateh, the PFLP and DFLP, declared Gaza to be a liberated zone. This declaration has since been followed by joint Egyptian – Hamas announcements of plans to establish a free trade zone in the Sinai. The establishment of a free trade zone is by many independent analysts as well as the progressive factions perceived as one more step toward the establishment of a separate Palestinian state in Gaza. The recent reconciliation initiatives between Hamas and Fateh would eventually prevent such an entity from being a solely Hamas controlled one but it would facilitate a division of Palestine into Gaza and small West Bank enclaves never the less.
The recent declaration of President Mahmoud Abbas, that he would continue working together with the USA toward a two state solution can hardly bee understood as isolated from the latest talks in Cairo and from the possible establishment of a free trade zone in the Sinai. With Israel having no intentions to halt the expansion of existing, and the establishment of additional illegal “settlements” in the West Bank, the political reality of Palestine and the occupation are increasingly developing a dynamic on their own.
The meetings in Cairo could turn into a further stepping stone toward a “final solution” for Palestine. A Palestine which will consist of small, isolated, Jordanian and Israeli controlled micro enclaves in the West Bank and an Egyptian controlled Gaza. With Qatar being the economical “primus motor” behind the “Arab Spring”, the primary backer of Mursi´s election and the primary economical backer of Hamas and joint Hamas – Egyptian plans to establish the Sinai free trade zone, Palestinians can hope for that President Abbas and Khaled Mashal don´t confuse national reconciliation with a joint surrender to Zionism, disguised in the robes of Qatar´s bin-Khalifa Al-Thani.