Egypt hosts Palestinian groups, urges calm with Israel

A member of Palestinian security forces loyal to Hamas patrols on border with Egypt, in Rafah in the southern of Gaza Strip July 5, 2017. (Reuters)
Updated 03 February 2019
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Egypt hosts Palestinian groups, urges calm with Israel

  • Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, led a delegation to meet with Egyptian security officials in Cairo
  • Hamas has been in a bitter rivalry with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who is based in the occupied West Bank

GAZA: Egypt will hold talks with leaders of two major Palestinian factions to try to salvage faltering unity efforts and to restore calm with Israel, officials said on Sunday.
The head of the Islamist militant group Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, led a delegation to meet with Egyptian security officials in Cairo. The leader of a smaller Gaza-based faction, Islamic Jihad, also headed to Cairo, Palestinian officials said.
Hamas has been in a bitter rivalry with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who is based in the occupied West Bank, for more than a decade. Numerous reconciliation efforts have failed.
Egypt is also trying to prevent an escalation in violence between Hamas and Israel, after months of tension along the Israel-Gaza border. Cairo sent officials to Gaza in recent weeks to keep an eye on the situation.
“Cairo is driven by its interest to avoid a new war in Gaza and in improving the living conditions of Gaza residents,” said one Palestinian official, who asked not to be named.
Relations between Hamas and Abbas’ Palestinian Authority (PA) worsened last month when Abbas ordered his men to leave their posts at the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, the main corridor for Gazans.
This prompted Cairo, which had in the past year coordinated operations with the PA, to close the crossing.
Gaza officials now say that Egypt has quietly resumed operations at the Rafah crossing over the past week, this time working with Hamas. However, there was no immediate comment on the reopening of Rafah from Egyptian officials.
On Sunday, Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh passed through the Rafah crossing, along with dozens of other Palestinians.
Two million Palestinians live in the Gaza Strip, where poverty is rampant and unemployment stands at 50 percent. Israel, together with Egypt, maintains a blockade of the enclave, citing security concerns.
Gaza’s health ministry says more than 220 Palestinians have been killed in the past year by Israeli troops in weekly protests along the border, billed as pressing for an end to the blockade.


President Donald Trump officially recognizes Israeli sovereignty of Golan Heights

Updated 3 min 39 sec ago
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President Donald Trump officially recognizes Israeli sovereignty of Golan Heights

  • Israel captured the region from Syria in 1967 war
  • Gulf Cooperation Council last week expressed regret at Donald Trump's plan

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump officially recognized Israel's sovereignty of the Golan Heights in Washington on Monday.

The document reverses more than a half-century of US policy as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the White House.

Trump had previewed the move in a tweet last week, in which he said the US would take the step after 52 years of Israeli occupation of the strategic highlands on the border with Syria.

Israel captured the region from Syria in 1967 but its sovereignty over the territory is not recognized by the international community.

The Syrian government said that Washington's recognition of Israeli claims over the Golan Heights were a blatant attack on its sovereignty.

"In a blatant attack on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria, the president of he US has recognised the annexation of the Syrian Golan," a foreign ministry source said, quoted by state news agency SANA.

Last Friday, the Gulf Cooperation Council expressed regret at Donald Trump's plan to recognise Israel's sovereignty over the territory.

Trump's statement "will not change the reality that (...) the Arab Golan Heights is Syrian land occupied by Israel by military force in 1967," said Abdul Latif Al Zayani, the GCC secretary general.

After Trump's decision, Russia warned it would prompt a "new wave" of tensions in the Middle East region.

The move came on the same day that Israel’s military launched strikes on Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip, hours after a rocket from the Palestinian enclave hit a house and wounded seven Israelis.

Witnesses and a security source in Gaza told AFP there had been at least two strikes on a site belonging to Hamas’s military wing in the west of the Gaza Strip. Details were not yet clear on the strikes.

(With Agencies)