Abbas Meets with Egyptian President; Set to Meet President Trump on Wednesday

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met on Saturday afternoon with Egyptian President Abdel Fatteh Al-Sisi in Cairo, a meeting allegedly dominated by the matter of the hunger strike being conducted by some 1,500 Palestinians serving terms in Israeli prisons. Sisi and Abbas issued a call for all Arab leaders and the international community as well to support the strikers and, as reported by the Ma’an news agency, “protect them from Israeli oppression.” Although not referenced in the official statements, no one doubts that Wednesday’s meeting between Abbas and President Trump at the White House weighted heavily on the agenda. The new American president has made clear his intent to find a solution to the Arab-Israeli impasse and has announced a trip to the region, probably before the end of May. Since his inauguration, Trump has begun to send his team to the Middle East and has hosted teams representing Israel and the Palestinians in Washington. In a sign of the importance Trump assigns to finding a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian track of Mideast conflicts, he has assigned the lead roles to his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and personal attorney Jason Greenblatt, who reportedly left all parties impressed by his performance when he made his first visit to the region after being placed in charge of foreign negotiations. Al-Sisi is important to Abbas as the leader of a major regional force who wants to be included in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and because rival Hamas is aggressively seeking warmer relations with Egypt, the keeper of the only gate in and out of the Gaza Strip not controlled by Israel.

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