Haniyeh hails 'new page' in Hamas-Egypt relations

Deputy Hamas leader declares that Hamas has opened a new page with Egypt, following several years of tension.

Dalit Halevi,

Ismail Haniyeh
Ismail Haniyeh
Flash 90

Deputy Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh declared on Sunday that Hamas has opened a new page in its relations with Egypt, following several years of tension.

Haniyeh said that Hamas is interested in maintaining close contacts with Egypt and intends to remove all causes of concern for the Egyptian leadership, especially in the field of security.

Hamas was on good terms with Egypt under the rule of former Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, a member of Hamas’s parent group, the Muslim Brotherhood. Things have been different, however, under current President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, who as chief of the Egyptian army ousted Morsi in 2013.

Cairo has accused Hamas of being involved in terrorist attacks in the Sinai, most of which have been carried out by the Sinai Province, which is the Islamic State (ISIS) affiliate in Egypt. Hamas denies the accusations.

Last year, Egypt accused Hamas of involvement, along with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, in the killing of the country's top prosecutor, Hisham Barakat.

Egypt began creating a wide buffer zone along the Gaza border in late 2014 in a bid to destroy the hundreds of smuggling tunnels Cairo says are used by Palestinian Arabs to deliver weapons to jihadists who are battling Egyptian forces in the Sinai Peninsula.

Haniyeh recently visited Cairo for talks with Egyptian leaders. Following his visit, a senior Hamas security delegation visited Egypt as well.

Egypt is interested in having Hamas join the fight against radical Islamic organizations that operate in the Sinai Peninsula and are affiliated with ISIS.

Hamas, for its part, has an interest in convincing Egypt to open the Rafah border crossing on a regular basis, in order to strengthen the economy through trade while accelerating the military buildup of the Palestinian security forces.

Egyptian authorities have kept the Rafah crossing virtually sealed since a terrorist attack in the Sinai Peninsula in October 2014, though they have temporarily reopened the crossing several times since that attack, mostly for the passage of humanitarian cases.




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