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Hamas, PLO, Israel welcome Egyptian statements regarding peace process

May 17, 2016 10:37 P.M. (Updated: May 21, 2016 10:15 A.M.)
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi speaks during the the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit, September 25, 2015 (AFP/Dominick Reuter, File)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Both the Hamas movement and the Israeli prime minister, as well as the PLO, welcomed on Tuesday Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi’s statements regarding efforts towards peace and reconciliation in the Palestinian territory and Israel.

Spokesperson for the Hamas movement Sami Abu Zuhri said in a statement that Hamas was ready to undertake all efforts towards reconciliation and achieving national Palestinian unity.

Abu Zuhri said he hoped that al-Sisi’s statements would re-energize the reconciliation process between opposing Palestinian factions.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed al-Sisi’s support for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

"I welcome Egyptian President al-Sisi's remarks and his willingness to make every effort to advance a future of peace and security between us and the Palestinians and the peoples of the region,” Netanyahu said in a statement.

“Israel is ready to participate with Egypt and other Arab states in advancing both the diplomatic process and stability in the region. I appreciate President al-Sisi's work and also draw encouragement from his leadership on this important issue."

PLO Executive Committee member Wasel Abu Youssef also welcomed al-Sisi’s statements. "We welcome any efforts aimed at ending the Israeli occupation," he told Reuters.

In a speech directed at Palestinians and Israelis at an infrastructure conference in the southern Egyptian city of Assiut earlier Tuesday, al-Sisi announced his support for the French-proposed multilateral peace initiative between the Israeli and Palestinian leadership.

Netanyahu had rejected the French initiative in April, saying the “best way to resolve the conflict between Israel and Palestinians is direct, bilateral negotiations."

"I ask that the Israeli leadership allow this speech to be broadcast in Israel one or two times as this is a genuine opportunity. ... We are willing to make all efforts to help find a solution to this problem," al-Sisi said in his speech.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault made a short visit to Israel and the occupied West Bank on Sunday to present the foundations of the proposed peace initiative between the two sides, as Netanyahu and Ayrault sparred verbally over France’s impartiality on the conflict.

All past efforts towards 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.

Meanwhile, rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas have been pitched against one another since Hamas won legislative elections in 2006 and subsequently fought its way to power in the Gaza Strip. A new round of reconciliation talks began in Qatar and Egypt earlier this year, and senior delegations from the rival factions met in April in Gaza City.

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