Hamas-Fatah reconciliation talks kick off
Egypt-backed reconciliation talks between rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah kicked off yesterday at the two-day emergency Arab League meeting on the Israel-Palestine peace process. Speaking at the meeting, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry stressed the importance of reaching an agreement between the factions to pave the way for successful elections in Palestine in mid-2021. The planned elections would be the first time Palestinians would head to the ballot box in 15 years, Reuters notes.
Egypt has been one of the cheerleaders for reconciliation: President Abdel Fattah el Sisi has been recently in talks to fast-track the Israel-Palestine peace process, with the first stone put in place back in 2017 when Sisi and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met for the first time.
And our ties with Iraq remain a major theme in diplomacy this week, with Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly reiterating that joint projects between Egypt and Iraq are a top priority during a meeting with Iraqi Foreign Minister Fouad Hussein on the sidelines of the Arab League meeting yesterday. Egypt and Iraq had signed 15 MoUs last November covering water, transport, construction, environmental, and other projects, and establishing an “oil-for-reconstruction” mechanism that could see Egyptian companies work on development projects in Iraq in return for importing Iraqi oil. International Cooperation Minister Rania Al Mashat met with Iraqi officials last week to iron out exactly how the oil-for-reconstruction agreement would work.