Amid Palestinian Election Talk, Hamas Chief Visits Qatar and Turkey, Abbas Travels to Egypt
Amid talk of holding elections for the first time in over a decade, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met this week in Egypt with his counterpart, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, while Hamas chief Ismael Haniyeh was greeted by the leaders of Qatar and Turkey. The PA, which controls the West Bank, and Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, have been at odds since 2007, when Abbas’ Fatah faction was ousted from Gaza in an internecine war. Subsequent efforts by international negotiators have repeatedly failed to implement a series of reconciliation agreements between the Palestinian parties. Nevertheless, it appears a breakthrough may be on the horizon, as both Abbas and Haniyeh have publicly expressed a willingness to hold parliamentary and presidential elections across all Palestinian territories for the first time since 2006 and 2005, respectively. According to Palestinian media, the PA chief discussed the prospective vote with el-Sisi and attempted to secure Egypt’s continued support for Ramallah in international forums ahead of the potential release of the political components of US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan. For his part, Haniyeh, on his first trip to beyond Cairo since assuming Hamas’ leadership two-plus years ago, spoke with Qatar’s emir and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan about the potential election, as well as the humanitarian situation in Gaza. Also reportedly discussed were ongoing negotiations aimed at brokering a long-term ceasefire between Gaza-based terrorist groups and Israel. With Turkey-Israel relations at a nadir, Erdoğan has become an outspoken proponent of Hamas, whereas Doha supports the blockaded Palestinian enclave to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars each year.