Egyptian and Hamas officials in Cairo “revisited old negotiations,” as a result of new appointments in Egypt’s General Intelligence Agency (GIA), a source close to the talks told Mada Masr.
Three high-ranking Hamas delegations have arrived in Cairo since February 9 and have been discussing three main issues with Egyptian officials: the status of Palestinian reconciliation negotiations, which have stalled in recent weeks; bilateral security cooperation between Cairo and Gaza to confront militants crossing from Gaza into Sinai; and finally, procedures to ease the humanitarian situation in Gaza, in light of the ongoing blockade.
The first delegation included Ismail Haniyya, head of Hamas’ political bureau, as well as Hamas leaders Fathi Hammad, Rouhi Mushtahi and Khalil al-Hayya. A few days later, another delegation led by Moussa Abu Marzouq arrived in Cairo, followed closely by a third headed by Saleh al-Arouri, according to the source.
In related news, London-based newspaper Asharq al-Awsat reported that an Egyptian security delegation arrived in Gaza on Sunday and included intelligence officer Sameh Nabil, who is in charge of Palestinian affairs, as well as Egypt’s consul in Ramallah Khaled Sami. According to the newspaper, the delegation arrived in Gaza via the Erez border crossing between Gaza and Israel.
Asharq al-Awsat said the Egyptian delegation visited Gaza to inspect a number of Palestinian ministries and other public offices, in an effort to guarantee the ease of administrative transfer from Hamas to members of the unity government.
Hamas announced last September that it had dissolved the committee in charge of conducting administrative duties in Gaza, accepted the staging of a general election and called for the national unity government to take over administrative affairs in Gaza. The announcement came days after a visit by top Hamas officials to Cairo, who met with then-head of the GIA Khaled Fawzy.
However, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas has been accused of delaying the reconciliation procedures and maintaining PA sanctions against Gaza.
Hamas accuses the PA of implementing punitive measures against Gaza residents, including power cuts and reduced electricity subsidies, cuts to employee salaries and restrictions on bringing medicine into the Gaza strip.
The source, who spoke to Mada Masr on condition of anonymity, said that the Egyptian side is cognizant of the steps taken by Hamas towards reconciliation, including dissolving the administrative committee, and turning over Gaza’s three crossings to the PA, despite the PA’s punitive measures and the fact that the unity government has yet to assume control over Gaza.
As part of its reconciliation efforts with the PA, Hamas handed over the administration of the Beit Hanoun and Karam Abou Salem border crossings with Israel, as well as the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, last November.
The source said that discussions about border security between Egyptian and Hamas officials only reinforced previously agreed upon arrangements, including the border-long buffer zone between Gaza and Egypt.