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Hamas chief heads to Cairo to discuss bilateral ties, Palestinian reconciliation

Jan. 23, 2017 12:30 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 26, 2017 12:00 P.M.)
(File)
CAIRO (Ma’an) -- Hamas deputy chief Ismail Haniyeh arrived in Cairo on Sunday to hold meetings with Egyptian political and security officials regarding future relations between the country and the Palestinian movement.

An Egyptian security official said that Haniyeh would meet with the head of Egyptian intelligence agency, Khalid Fawzi, to discuss the possibility of reopening the Rafah crossing between the besieged Gaza Strip and Egypt permanently, and the security situation near the border between Egypt and Gaza.

The Egyptian security source said that relations between Egypt and Hamas had recently improved, particularly due to Hamas’ willingness to cooperate with Egypt regarding security measures at the border.

The security official said that the meetings would also address the reconciliation process between Hamas, which is the de facto ruler of the Gaza Strip, and Fatah, the ruling party of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the occupied West Bank, by offering to host talks between the two sides in Cairo.

They added that Egyptian President Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi had given Egyptian officials the “green light” to strengthen the country’s relationship with all Palestinian factions in order to help achieve Palestinian unity, and had contacted newly instated US President Donald Trump to express Egypt’s opposition to the United States possibly moving its embassy to Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Haniyeh has just returned from Qatar, where Fatah and Hamas officials met to discuss political reconciliation and the eventual formation of a unity government, with Fatah officials affirming that the internal Palestinian divisions “should end in a short time.”

Reports of reconciliation talks in past weeks have come as Hamas and the PA have exchanged accusations of carrying out “politically motivated” arrests, and blamed each other for an ongoing electricity crisis in the Gaza Strip which left the majority of Palestinians there with only three hours of power a day for more than a week.

Fatah and Hamas have been embroiled in conflict since Hamas' election victory in 2006 elections in the Gaza Strip, which erupted into a violent conflict between the two movements as both attempted to consolidate control over the territory.

Despite numerous attempts at reconciling the groups, Palestinian leadership has so far repeatedly failed to follow through on promises of reconciliation and holding of long-overdue elections, as both movements have frequently blamed each other for numerous political failures.
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