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Official: Egyptian security delegation to visit Israel

Feb. 18, 2013 5:53 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 20, 2013 3:28 P.M.)
CAIRO (Ma'an) -- An Egyptian delegation will visit Israel for talks on the ceasefire with Hamas and border restrictions, a security official said Monday.

The delegation will demand Israel allows commercial goods to enter Gaza via the Rafah crossing on Egypt's border, the Egyptian official told Ma'an.

Egyptian President Mohammad Mursi has already held talks with Israel through Egypt's national security service, the official added.

"Israel has agreed to allow entry of construction material from Qatar which the Israelis refused before. This reflects that both sides have been holding talks behind the scenes to avoid alerting the public opinion in Egypt which refuses cooperation with Israel and the United States." he said.

The Egyptian official told Ma'an that an Israeli delegation had arrived in Cairo on Sunday. Egyptian media has reported that five Israeli officials visited Cairo on Sunday for the second time in a week.

Senior Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya said Sunday that his party was holding indirect talks with Israel over the implementation of the ceasefire deal, brokered in Cairo in November.

Al-Hayya insisted that the discussions did not amount to political negotiations.

The Hamas official was commenting on an earlier report on Israel's Channel 2 TV that Israeli and Hamas representatives had been negotiating for weeks.

According to Channel 2, the agenda of the talks included Israel permitting Egypt to open its Rafah border with Gaza to allow the entry of Qatari-donated construction materials, and the export of Gaza's agricultural products to Israel.

Al-Hayya said the framework of the talks are solely the terms of the ceasefire deal which ended an eight-day conflict in November. There are no contacts or meetings of a political nature, he said.

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