Hamas Political Bureau Urges Hezbollah to Leave Syria and Focus on Israel

Sources in Cairo tell Haaretz that an on-going meeting of the Hamas political bureau in Cairo is due to internal differences of opinion within Hamas regarding the crisis in Syria.

Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury
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Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury

Hamas' political bureau called on Hezbollah on Monday to remove its forces from Syria and focus its energies on Israel.

Hezbollah's entrance into Syria was polarizing the region along religious lines, the Islamist militant group added in a statement from Cairo, where it was holding a meeting of political bureau members.

The Cairo gathering has drawn a furious response from the Egyptian street, according to local reports: Egyptian forces have encircled the hotel venue where the bureau members, led by chief Khaled Meshal and the prime minister of the Hamas government in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, are meeting.

According to Egyptian opposition sources, Hamas is interfering in domestic Egyptian issues in favor of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood. Information presented in Egyptian media claimed that Hamas was maintaining constant contact with Salafist cells operating in the Sinai Peninsula - the same cells that carried out terror attacks against Egyptian security services.

The tension between the sides stems from Egyptian army policy that continues to clamp done on tunnels connecting the Gaza Strip to the Egyptian city of Rafah.

A Palestinian source in Cairo told Haaretz that the anger directed at Hamas is not being expressed in statements and declarations to media, but rather with the planning of demonstrations outside the meeting's venue and with the demand that the Hamas members be expelled from Egypt.

Meanwhile, Egyptian media reported that the heads of the army have rejected Meshal's request to meet and coordinate positions, due to allegations of Hamas involvement in domestic issues in Egypt, particularly in the Sinai region.

Ibrahim Al-Dirawi, the director of a research institute in Egypt who is considered close to Hamas, said that members of the Hamas political bureau were holding the gathering as within the framework of Meshal's tour of Arab states and were supposed to meet with senior officials including Morsi and the director of Egyptian intelligence General Mohammed Raafat Shehat.

But sources in Cairo told Haaretz that the meeting – which was classified as urgent – was actually being held due to internal differences of opinion regarding the crisis in Syria.

A Hamas delegation met in Lebanon two days ago with senior Hezbollah members in what was termed as a coordination of positions.

This meeting took place after Hamas' military wing in Gaza announced that it was part of an axis of resistance against Israel and sees Hezbollah as a strategic ally.

At the same time, Hamas political echelon has maintained the position held by the Muslim Brothers and the Qatar-aligned axis, expressing support for the rebels in Syria (who are fighting against Hezbollah) – a position not warmly accepted by many groups in Hamas and on the Palestinian street.

Hamas members have rejected allegations of the group's involvement in Egypt's domestic issues and stated that security coordination with Egyptian intelligence agencies was intended to prevent illegal border crossings into Gaza, and to prevent rocket fire into Israel's Western Negev region and generally preserve the calm along the border.

An image of Syria's President Bashar Assad in a car as Hezbollah supporters celebrate, after the Syrian army took control of Qusair from rebel fighters, Hermel, June 5, 2013.Credit: Reuters

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