World Bulletin / News Desk
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will begin an official two-day visit to Egypt on Sunday during which he will meet Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Arab League Secretary-General Nabil al-Arabi.
Palestinian Ambassador to Egypt Jamal al-Shobaki told Anadolu Agency by phone Saturday that the two presidents were slated to meet on Monday.
Scheduled talks, he said, would likely tackle "recent development on the Palestinian stage, especially the deteriorating humanitarian and security situations and the continued construction of [Jewish-only] settlements [in the Israeli-occupied West Bank]".
According to al-Shobaki, discussions between Abbas and al-Sisi would also likely include proposals to open the Rafah border crossing (between the blockaded Gaza Strip and Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula) on a permanent basis.
"The Egyptian stance is clear in this regard," the ambassador said. "The permanent opening of the crossing requires a legitimate Palestinian power on the border."
"Humanitarian cases have been allowed through, but we must open the crossing on a permanent basis," he added.
"For this to happen," al-Shobaki asserted, "the [Ramallah-based Palestinian] unity government must be empowered to carry out its responsibilities and control the crossing."
Since the ouster of Mohamed Morsi -- Egypt’s first-ever freely elected president -- in a 2013 military coup, Cairo has kept its border with the Hamas-run Gaza Strip closed for the most part.
According to data released by Gaza’s Interior Ministry, throughout the course of last year, Egyptian authorities opened the Rafah crossing for only 21 days and to limited traffic.
The long periods of closure at the crossing -- which represents Gaza's only access to the outside world not under Israeli control -- have brought the coastal enclave’s roughly 1.9 million inhabitants to the verge of economic and humanitarian catastrophe.