The Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed al-Orabi announced on Tuesday his plan to establish a department under the control of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to take responsiblity for issues relating to Palestine. The new body is to be called the "Palestine Administration".
Observers believe the establishment of the new department is an indication of a significant change within the ministry, which is reclaiming control of the Israel-Palestine portfolio after losing it to the General Intelligence Service (GIS) during the reign of President Hosni Mubarak.
Under Mubarak, the GIS, which was headed by Omar Suleiman for almost 20 years, was given responsibilty for several important portfolios previously handled by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Among the most prominent were the Palestinian portfolio, Egypt's relations with the Nile Basin States, and Egyptian-Israeli relations.
Experts say that Suleiman made little progress on any of the portfolios under GIS control. He failed to achieve reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas, a cause that he ostensibly sponsored for nearly two years. He also failed to make any progress in negotiations with the Nile Basin States.
The establishment of the Palestine Administration comes one day after Orabi’s appointment to office as the new foreign minister, affirming the importance of Palestinian issues in the eyes both of career diplomats and the ministry.
In addition to affirming the ministry's determination to take the lead in Palestine-Egypt relations, Orabi this week outlined his vision of a new approach to the stalled peace process.
"We are experiencing a new strategy that requires the formulation of a unified Arab stance on the Palestinian cause," he said. "The drafting of this unified Arab position will be our goal in the coming period to support the Palestinian position in the peace process."
Translated from the Arabic Edition