Hamas leader says relations with Cairo have improved

Ahram Online , Wednesday 25 Jan 2017

Mahmoud El-Zahar
Veteran Hamas leader Mahmoud El-Zahar (Photo: Reuters)

Palestinian Hamas leader Mahmoud El-Zahar said on Tuesday that the movement's relations with Cairo have improved, evidenced by the reaching of an agreement this week on border control between the Gaza Strip and Sinai Peninsula, state news agency MENA reported.

The Islamic resistance movement's leader said the parties did not agree on certain terms, however, without giving further details.

El-Zahar said in statements published by El-Ra'i news website, reportedly affiliated with the group, that a delegation of representatives from the group met with Egyptian officials in Cairo this week. 

According to El-Ra'i, the group's delegation to Cairo included leaders Ismail Haniyeh, Moussa Abu Marzouk and Rouhi Moshtahi.

Previous news reports said that the deputy head of Hamas' political bureau Ismail Haniyeh arrived in Cairo on Monday, on his return from a trip to Doha, to hold meetings with Egyptian officials.

The last official visit of Hamas representatives to Cairo was in March 2016.

Relations between Egypt and the Palestinian Islamic group became strained in the wake of a popular uprising that toppled Egypt's Islamist ex-president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013. 

Cairo has repeatedly accused Hamas of backing Egypt's banned Muslim Brotherhood organisation and smuggling through illegal tunnels in the Gaza-Sinai border.

The Egyptian government has demanded that Hamas sever ties with the Brotherhood, and take steps to prevent cross-border smuggling.  

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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