Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry on Wednesday paid his first official visit to Ramallah, the Palestinian Authority’s administrative capital, where he voiced Egypt’s support for an independent Palestinian state, according to Anadolu Agency.
“This is my first visit [to Ramallah] since I was appointed to the position [of foreign minister],” Shoukry said at a press conference held with Palestinian counterpart Riyad al-Malki.
He went on to say that he brought a message of “solidarity and support” from Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi reiterating Cairo’s support for an independent state of Palestine.
“During my meeting with President Abbas we discussed the Egyptian-Palestinian relationship and the French peace initiative aimed at ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” he said.
The Egyptian minister confirmed the continuation of intensive political coordination with the Palestinians in supporting the French-led peace initiative and preparing for a multilateral international peace conference expected to be held in Paris before the end of this year.
The two reportedly agreed on continuing with talks in upcoming weeks as a follow-up to the meeting held in Ramallah and to center the discussions on the Palestinian right to establish an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital,
Abbas also expressed his appreciation for Egyptian President Abd al Fattah al-Sisi’s continued support of the Palestinian cause.
Shoukry also noted that Egypt’s Rafah border crossing with the blockaded Gaza Strip would be opened on Wednesday for a five-day period.
“Egypt is concerned about the interests and needs of the Palestinian people in Gaza,” he said.
Shoukry went on to attribute the current difficult circumstances at the Egypt-Gaza border to the fact that the Palestinian Authority was not in control of the Rafah crossing.
Al-Malki, for his part, said Shoukry’s visit had come at a “critical time”, stressing the importance of Egypt’s role in the Palestinian file.
The Egyptian peace talk proposal is focused on renewing peace negotiations by organizing direct talks between Israeli and Palestinian parties, while initiating meetings between Palestinian political factions in an attempt to spearhead a reconciliation agreement between Palestinian groups.
The Egyptian leadership has also expressed its support for the French-led multilateral peace conference expected to be held by the end of this year.
However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has staunchly rejected the French initiative, as Director-General of Israel’s Foreign Ministry Dore Gold earlier this month equated the multilateral initiative to a colonial project being enforced on the Middle East.
Instead, Israeli leaders have voiced their support for al-Sisi’s trilateral initiative which would see Palestinian and Israeli leaders meeting face to face to negotiate a peace deal.
Netanyahu and Lieberman also reiterated support for al-Sisi’s initiative, and threw their support behind the two-state solution.
All past efforts for peace negotiations have failed to end the decades-long Israeli military occupation or bring Palestinians closer to an independent contiguous state.
The most recent spate of negotiations led by the US collapsed in April 2014.
Israel claimed the process failed because the Palestinians refused to accept a US framework document outlining the way forward, while Palestinians pointed to Israel’s ongoing settlement building and the government’s refusal to release veteran prisoners.