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Abbas: Egypt events will not affect reconciliation

July 4, 2013 7:37 P.M. (Updated: July 8, 2013 12:22 P.M.)
BEIRUT (Ma’an) – President Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday that the situation in Egypt would have little impact on efforts to reconcile Hamas and Fatah.

Egyptian leaders have mediated between the two sides for years in an effort to reunite the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, which have remained under rival governments since 2007.

Speaking at a news conference in Beirut, Abbas added that despite the Palestinians' opinions about ouster of Egyptian President Mohamad Mursi, the official position will be to remain neutral.

“We are all humans, and we have our own opinions toward what is going on in Arab countries. However, we will never announce our attitude because we don’t want to involve our people in any other cause except the Palestinian plight,” the president said.

On the long-stalled peace process with Israel, Abbas said the Palestinian Authority would continue to cooperate with US efforts seeking to resume negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel.

Abbas was speaking during the second of a three-day visit to Lebanon. Abbas’ schedule is packed as he plans to meet with as many Lebanese and Palestinian officials as possible.

Earlier, the president congratulated Adly Mansour upon his taking office as Egypt's interim president following Mursi's overthrow by the chief of the armed forces.

"In the name of the Palestinian people and its leadership I congratulate the Egyptian leadership in this transitional phase of its history," Abbas said, according to the PA's official news agency Wafa.

"We ask God to help you to take this difficult responsibility at this critical period, to achieve the hopes of the Egyptian people in freedom, dignity and stability," the president added.

Abbas praised the role of Egypt's army and its leader Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and said they had preserved security in Egypt. He also applauded the Egyptian people for their revolution.

Mansour was sworn in as interim president of Egypt on Thursday, a day after the military ousted Mohamed Mursi following a week of massive protests.

Mursi's government unraveled after the army gave him a 48-hour ultimatum in the wake of massive demonstrations against him on June 30, the anniversary of his first turbulent year in power.

Hamas, the Islamist movement that rivals Abbas' Fatah party, said Wednesday it did not fear the fall of Mursi and that it was concerned only with the stability of Egypt.

"We do not fear the fall of President Mohamed Mursi," Hamas leader Ahmad Yousef told Ma'an. "We fear the dramatic changes that could cause things to go out of hand and lead to bloodshed."

"There is no doubt that the whole Arab world is waiting and hoping that the situation in Egypt stabilizes," he said.

"We only care about stability in Egypt regardless of who is in charge. Egypt is a lifeline to us; it’s a major factor in the stability of the internal Palestinian situation -- it is our backbone," Yousef added.

He hoped a political solution could be found for the crisis and lead Egypt to the "shore of safety."
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