Wednesday, August 24, 2016

PUTIN TAKES MIDDLE EAST LEADERSHIP ROLE ... OFFERS TO BROKER PEACE

Egyptian president: Putin willing to host Netanyahu and Abbas Mideast peace talks

CAIRO: 
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi said on Sunday that Russian President Vladimir Putin informed him that he is ready to host direct talks summit between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

Speaking in an interview with Egyptian journalists and quoted by Yedioth Ahronoth, the Egyptian president said Israeli convictions of peace are strengthening.

Sisi also invited everybody to take part in moving the peace process forward which, he said, was the key to stability in the region.


But Palestinian infighting between the Islamist Hamas rulers of Gaza and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas's Fatah in the West Bank remained an obstacle, he said in the interview.

Talks between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Abbas have been suspended since 2014, despite a push by Washington and France to resume the peace process.

Sisi, who is seen as having good ties with both Israel and Abbas's Palestinian Authority, has also been pushing for a resumption of negotiations.

"Putin has told me that he is ready to receive both (Abbas) and Netanyahu in Moscow to carry out direct talks to find a solution and solve the issue," Sisi said.

"I see that the conviction of the importance of peace is rising among the Israeli side, and the conviction about finding an exit to the issue is a positive sign.

"At the same time, it is important to end the Palestinian-Palestinian rift... and to have national reconciliation between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas so that the climate be ready for real efforts to establish a state," he said.

Sisi said last month that his country was making serious efforts to break the deadlock between Israel and the Palestinians.

His remarks followed a trip by Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry to Israel, the first in nine years.

Egypt became in 1979 the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel, after four wars.

Netanyahu has called on Palestinians to engage in direct negotiations with Israel, but Palestinian leaders say years of talks have not ended Israel's occupation of the West Bank.

Abbas has instead tried to put pressure on Israel through diplomacy at the UN.

“Putin has told me that he is ready to receive [Abbas] and Netanyahu in Moscow to carry out direct talks to find a solution,” Mr Sisi told the state-owned newspaper Al.

He added that there is no avoiding a reconciliation agreement between Hamas and Fatah since only this, he contended, could lead to genuine concerted efforts to bring about the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Several months ago, Sisi in a televised speech urged Israelis and Palestinian Arabs to seize what he said was a "real opportunity" for peace and hailed his own country's peace deal with Israel.

The comments were welcomed by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who stressed that "Israel is ready to participate with Egypt and other Arab states in advancing both the diplomatic process and stability in the region."

Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman welcomed Sisi’s call as well, saying he welcomed the Egyptian president’s efforts to achieve peace and establish a Palestinian state.

But despite his comments welcoming the peace efforts, Abbas recently rejected an American proposal for a meeting with Netanyahu in the presence of Arab and western leaders.

Abbas's stated reason for refusing was the claim that the proposal was just a plan to circumvent the Arab and French peace proposals.

The PA chairman has also insisted that any reboot of peace talks with Israel should happen within a clear timeframe and under international supervision.