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Hamas delegation in Cairo for talks with Egyptian officials

Ahram Online , Sunday 2 Jul 2017
Hamas Chief
File Photo: Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniya. (Photo: AP)
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A Hamas delegation arrived in Cairo on Sunday for talks with Egyptian officials on security issues and Cairo’s assistance to the Israeli-besieged Gaza Strip.

The delegation includes representatives from the interior, health, economic and finance ministries, according to Hamas’s statement, as reported by Al-Ahram Arabic website.

“The delegation will discuss security talks on the borders, the Rafah border crossing, electricity and fuel issues,” the statement read.

Hamas representatives visited Egypt for talks with officials last month.

Relations between Egypt and the Palestinian Islamist group with rules the Gaza Strip were strained in the wake of the ouster of then-president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.

Cairo had accused Hamas of backing Egypt's banned Muslim Brotherhood organisation and of smuggling goods and arms through tunnels under the Gaza-Sinai border.

In early 2017, Palestinian Hamas leader Mahmoud El-Zahar said that the movement's relations with Cairo have improved, evidenced by the reaching of an agreement on border control between the Gaza Strip and Egypt.

In its new manifesto, released in February, Hamas, which was founded in 1989, rebranded itself as an Islamic national liberation movement, rather than a branch of the pan-Arab Muslim Brotherhood, which has been outlawed in Egypt.

In late June, Egypt trucked 1 million litres of cheap diesel fuel to the Gaza Strip's sole power plant to temporarily eased a crippling electricity crisis in the enclave, according to the AP, which quoted Hamas officials.

The Hamas delegation arrived in Egypt on Sunday via the Rafah border crossing, which was opened specifically for them.

Egypt has kept its border with the Gaza Strip largely closed since Morsi’s ouster.

Cairo periodically opens the border to allow civilians with foreign passports, Palestinian students, and those with medical needs to travel back and forth.

The crossing in northern Sinai is the only gateway for 1.8 million Palestinians living in Israeli-besieged Gaza to enter and exit the enclave after Israel imposed a naval and land blockade since the Islamist Hamas movement became its de-facto ruler in 2006, inflicting increasing suffering on the impoverished population. It is the only terminal not controlled by Israel.

Cairo plays a central role in reconciliation efforts between rival Palestinian factions, as well as efforts to end the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

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