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In Cairo, Hamas declares readiness to form Palestinian unity government

Sept. 12, 2017 11:51 A.M. (Updated: Sept. 20, 2017 11:31 A.M.)
(File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Head of the Hamas movement's politburo Ismail Haniyeh and other high-ranking Hamas members met with Egyptian intelligence officials in Cairo on Monday night, with talks focusing on cross border security and a readiness for Palestinian national reconciliation.

The delegation told the Egyptian intelligence minister Khaled Fawzi that Hamas is ready to hold meetings with the Fatah movement, Hamas’ rival and head of the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority (PA).

Hamas said in a statement it was was ready to “immediately” sign an agreement with Fatah, and also reiterated claims it was ready to disband its administrative committee -- formed earlier this year to the outrage of the PA, which accused Hamas of attempting to form a shadow government and run Gaza independent of the occupied West Bank.

The PA has since been accused of deliberately sending the impoverished Gaza Strip further into a humanitarian catastrophe -- by slashing funding for Israeli fuel, medicine, and salaries for civil servants and former prisoners -- in order to wrest control of the territory from Hamas.

Hamas leadership told Egyptian intelligence officials they would allow the Palestinian national consensus government to take charge and carry out elections, on the condition that all Palestinian factions hold a conference in Cairo afterwards to elect a national government responsible for the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem.

Previously, Hamas’ offers for reconciliation have called on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to put an end to recent policies imposed on the besieged coastal enclave.

Abbas has meanwhile threatened to undertake further repressive measures against the impoverished territory should Hamas not unconditionally abide by the PA’s demands to end the administrative committee, relinquish control of the enclave to the PA, and hold presidential and legislative elections.

The Hamas delegation also pledged to Egyptian intelligence officials that Hamas would continue to support the safety and security of Egypt, “and would never allow that the Gaza Strip be used to harm Egypt's security by any means,” according to the statement.

Hamas has sought to improve relations with Cairo in recent months by increasing cross border security, including the construction of the military buffer zone, in hopes that Egypt will ease its enforcement of Israel’s brutal, decade-long siege of the territory and open up the Rafah border crossing.

Hamas’s shifting emphasis on its relationship with Cairo also comes in the wake of a diplomatic siege by Egypt and other Arab countries on Hamas’ long-time supporter Qatar, where the former head of Hamas’ politburo was based.
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