Hamas delegation arrives in Cairo hoping to begin 'new phase' in Egypt relations

Ahram Online , Sunday 13 Mar 2016

'The meeting will discuss bilateral relations, issues in Gaza, the Rafah border crossing, as well as the Palestinian issue,' according to a Hamas statement

Sami Abu Zuhri
Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri (Reuters)

A delegation from the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas arrived in Cairo on Saturday evening for talks with Egypt's general intelligence service. The visit aims to start a new phase in its relationship with Egypt, according to media reports.

According to a statement by senior Hamas leader, Moussa Abu Marzouk is heading the delegation.

"The meeting will discuss bilateral relations, issues in Gaza, the Rafah border crossing, as well as the Palestinian issue," the statement read.

The Rafah border crossing in northern Sinai, which is the only gateway out of the strip for Palestinians, has been closed most days of the year by Egyptian authorities since the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013. Cairo occasionally opens the crossing to allow the passage of those in need of medical care and for other humanitarian considerations.

The Hamas spokesperson Samy Abo Zuhri said that the group, "affirms its commitment to the security and stability of Egypt and that it is keen to maintain positive relations with Cairo."

The delegation's visit comes in the wake of a recent french peace initiative to hold an international conference to restart negotiations to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Last week, the French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault visited with Egyptian president Abdel Fattah El-Sisi to discuss the initiative. 

The statement added that the movement looks forward to turning a new page in relations between the two parties.

Last week, Egypt said the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group as well as its Palestinian offshoot Hamas were behind the assassination of top prosecutor Hisham Barakat on 29 June 2015.

Relations between Hamas and Egypt soured following the ouster of Islamist president Mohammed Morsi, a close ally of Hamas, in 2013.

Egyptian officials have more than once linked Hamas to terror acts in Egypt, which spiked following Morsi's toppling.

The Islamist movement has repeatedly denied these accusations.

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