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'We want to open a new page with Egypt,' says Hamas leader Haniya

Ahram Online , Tuesday 3 Oct 2017
Khaled Fawzi and Hamas
Egypt's General Intelligence service Khaled Fawzi shaking hands with head of Hamas political office Ismail Hania in Gaza on Tuesday (Photo:Hamas official twitter account)

The head of Hamas' political office Ismail Haniya said on Tuesday that his movement wants to start a "new page" with Egypt through new strategic relations, as a Fatah delegation and Egyptian officials have been holding meetings with Hamas in Gaza and Ramallah since Sunday.

Haniya told Egypt's official news agency MENA that Gaza would not harbour "any person" who threatens Egypt's national security.

"It is our responsibility from a religious perspective, as well as from a nationalistic, patriotic and humanitarian perspective, to protect Egypt," he said, adding that as long as Egypt is strong, Palestine and the Arab world will be strong.

Two weeks ago, Hamas dissolved its administrative committee running Gaza, making way for a Hamas-Fatah unity government in the Strip.

A delegation of Egyptian officials headed by Khaled Fawzi, the head of Egypt's General Intelligence, attended the first meeting of the Palestinian unity government.

Haniya revealed that Hamas' reconciliation with Fatah came after months of talks with officials from Egyptian General Intelligence in Egypt.

"We made this move to restore confidence between us and the Egyptians, I can tell the Egyptian people that we are starting a new page of relations," he told MENA.

Relations between Egypt and the Palestinian Islamist group, which has ruled the Gaza Strip since 2007, were strained in the wake of the ouster of Egyptian Islamist 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.

Tension has eased over the past few months and Egypt has sponsored several rounds of talks with Hamas leaders to discuss security arrangements along the border as well as reconciliation measures with Fatah.

In a 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 international Arab Muslim Brotherhood.

Haniya said the decision to reconcile with Fatah is strategic and that its timing is important.

"Hamas wanted to send a message to Mahmoud Abbas that it supported him during the meetings of the United Nations General Assembly," Haniya said.

Nevertheless, the Palestinian official stated that it was natural to have problems and crises that needed to be solved in both Ramallah and Gaza.

"The unity-government is tasked with ending these crises, including the blockade problem in Gaza, and we [Hamas] will cooperate [in this respect]. Egypt will also play a big role in this," he said.

Gaza has been under Israeli blockade since 2006.

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

Haniya said that Egypt has allowed supplies, cement, construction material, and fuel to enter the Strip through the Rafah border in order to help offset electricity shortages.

In late June, Egypt trucked 1 million litres of cheap diesel fuel to the Gaza's sole power plant to temporarily ease a crippling electricity crisis, according to AP.

Haniya added that Fawzi spoke with the Hamas delegation about "developing" the Rafah border crossing.

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