Egypt: Sisi hosts Palestinian leader and Jordan's King Abdullah for talks in Cairo
A summit was taking place in Cairo on Thursday between Egypt's President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, King Abdullah II of Jordan and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, with the stated aim of reviving the peace process in the Middle East.
Abbas arrived in Egypt on Wednesday evening accompanied by PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki, the head of the Palestinian public authority for civil affairs, Hussein al-Sheikh, and General Intelligence chief Majed Faraj.
Official PA news agency Wafa reported that Abbas expressed his appreciation of Egypt's role in brokering a ceasefire between Israel and armed Palestinian factions in Gaza in May, as well as Sisi's initiative to provide $500m in aid for the reconstruction of the blockaded Palestinian coastal territory following the widespread destruction caused by Israeli bombardments during an 11-day war that month.
Sisi meanwhile received Jordan's King Abdullah II at Cairo airport on Thursday morning.
The three leaders were scheduled to discuss how to work with US President Joe Biden to push Israel to end its occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, cease its expansion of illegal settlements in the occupied territories, and further push for a two-state solution.
The Egyptian president is also expected to hold a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in the town of Sharm al-Sheikh in the Sinai peninsula - although details on the timing of the meeting remain to be announced.
The Israeli premier has highlighted his country's keenness to prevent weapons from entering Gaza through Egypt.
On Wednesday, Bennett issued a statement denying reports that he would be attending the meeting along with Abbas and Abdullah.
But the Cairo meeting comes days after Abbas met with Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz in Ramallah, in the highest-profile meeting between the two sides in years.
On Monday, Israel agreed to lend the PA more than $150m in the wake of the Abbas-Gantz meeting, in order to help the PA pay the wages of its nearly 130,000 employees.
Bennett met with Biden at the White House last week. While Biden reiterated the US's support for a two-state solution, Bennett maintained that there would be no Palestinian state as long as he is prime minister.
Abbas's PA has come under mounting global criticism over its crackdown on key rights following the death in Palestinian custody of prominent activist Nizar Banat.
The PA was established in the wake of the 1993 Oslo Accords and initially intended to be an interim governing body until the establishment of a fully fledged Palestinian state.
But with a two-state solution never materialising, the PA - which exerts only limited control over around 40 percent of the West Bank, known as Areas A and B - has long been accused by many Palestinians of being an extension of the Israeli occupation, particularly with its policy of security coordination with Israel.
Abbas, meanwhile, has been in power since 2005. Though his term as president officially ended in 2009, the PA has not held presidential elections in 16 years.
While legislative elections and a presidential vote were initially scheduled for 22 May and 31 July respectively, they were postponed in April.
In July, a US envoy for Israeli-Palestinian affairs warned that he had "never seen the Palestinian Authority in a worse situation" amid growing popular anger.