Egypt’s foreign ministry on Saturday denied statements by a Hamas figure that Egypt had backed out of hosting talks between Palestinian factions.
On Saturday morning Mohamed Nezal, a member of the political office of Hamas, told Palestinian news website Al-Resala that "Egypt has officially declined to host the bilateral talks between Hamas and Fatah.”
Nezal added that senior Fatah official Azam Al-Ahmed, who is responsible for reconciliation between the two movements, had called Hamas and notified it of Egypt's decision, Al-Resala reported.
A post on the Egyptian foreign ministry’s official Facebook page on Saturday afternoon however said that “an official ministry source had denied the news reports that said Egypt had declined to hosting the Palestinian talks in Cairo.”
The post also said the reports were “not consistent with Egypt’s well-known role regarding the Palestinian case.”
In a statement, Al-Ahmed also denied the Al-Resala report, saying: "We are still waiting for the Egyptian side’s response on hosting the talks between Hamas and Fatah," Al-Ahram Arabic website reported.
"Despite Egypt's stance on Hamas, we care that Egypt remain the sponsor of the Palestinian reconciliation for the interest of the Palestinian people," Al-Ahmed said.
Mohamed Al-Aloul, a senior member of Fatah, also stated Friday afternoon that a meeting between members of Fatah and Hamas was to be expected within days, adding that there are efforts to hold the meeting in Cairo, the Palestinian news agency Maan reported.
Relations between Egypt and Hamas have soured since the ouster of Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013, with the new Egyptian government accusing Hamas of providing logistical support to Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood and to insurgent Islamist groups in Sinai. Cairo has also launched an ongoing campaign to destroy the tunnles that connect Gaza with the Egyptian town of Rafah.
The tunnels were used to transfer food and building equipment to Gaza, which has been under Israeli blockade since 2007.
Despite the tensions, Egypt brokered an open-ended ceasefire between Palestine and Israel in late August after over 50 days of war that left around 2,143 Palestinians dead and more than 12,000 others injured. On the Israeli side, 70 people including 64 soldiers were killed.