Report: Israeli Delegation Arrives in Cairo as Palestinian Unity Talks Underway

Palestinian report says meeting between Israeli and Egyptian officials lasted a few hours ■ Hamas, Fatah begin reconciliations talks in Cairo

Palestinian and Egyptian officials meet in Gaza City, Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017.
STR/AP

An Israeli delegation landed in Cairo on Tuesday to meet with Egyptian officials, say reports from Palestinian news agency Shms News, citing Egyptian security sources. The meeting took place as Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah started negotiating reconciliation in Cairo.

According to the source, the Israeli delegation landed in a private plane in Cairo's international airport for a number of hours to meet with Egyptian officials.

>> Palestinian factions negotiate unity in Egypt but leave hard questions at the door | Analysis

A key point for Israel is resolving the impasse regarding the Israelis missing in Gaza. Israel is seeking to take advantage of the conciliatory atmosphere between Hamas and Fatah to make progress in negotiations regarding the issue.

At the end of August, Col (res.) Lior Lotan, the coordinator for prisoners of war and soldiers missing in action, resigned his post, and Netanyahu has yet to name a replacement.

Reconciliation talks between Fatah and Hamas began in Cairo on Tuesday under the auspices of Egyptian intelligence. Last week a ceremonial cabinet meeting with both groups was held in the Gaza strip.

The negotiations aren’t starting from scratch but will be based on the 2011 Cairo agreement. Both organizations agree that the changes in the region since then mean that amendments and new agreements are needed, but not a reopening of all the agreement’s clauses.

Senior Hamas official Saleh al-Arouri will be heading his side’s delegation, with his team including Yahya Sinwar, the head of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, and Moussa Abu Marzouk, who led the group’s representation during reconciliation talks in the past.

Hamas ensured that the delegation would have one representative from the Strip and one from the diaspora, to show a united front, while Arouri and Sinwar are also part of the security apparatus.

The Fatah delegation includes central committee member Azzam al-Ahmad, who is responsible for the movement’s reconciliation portfolio, as well as the minister for civilian affairs, Hussein al-Sheikh. Also on board are other members of the central committee, in addition to Majid Faraj, head of Palestinian security and a close associate of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.