Hamas Delegation Heads for Cairo to Discuss Palestinian Reconciliation

Officials to meet in Cairo in coming days, but Hamas conditions any rapprochement on removal of Palestinian Authority sanctions on Gaza

Palestinians rally in support of President Mahmoud Abbas, in Ramallah, in the West Bank, July 2, 2018.
Mohamad Torokman/Reuters

Egyptian intelligence has invited the Hamas leadership to attend talks in Cairo about the situation in the Gaza Strip and Palestinian reconciliation.

Senior Hamas official Tahar al-Nunu confirmed that the invitation had been received, and told Haaretz that a senior delegation will be heading to the Egyptian capital in the coming days to discuss several issues, with improving relations between Hamas and Fatah being a top priority.

Azzam al-Ahmad, who is in charge of such efforts on behalf of Fatah, is currently in Cairo and has said that the Egyptians are maintaining contacts with both parties to promote reconciliation. Last week, Palestinian intelligence chief Majid Faraj also paid a visit to the city.

Hamas is conditioning any progress in reconciliation talks on the removal of the sanctions the Palestinian Authority has slapped on the Strip.

Khalil al-Hayya, a senior Hamas official, said Monday in an interview with a website affiliated with the Islamist party in Gaza that removal of those sanctions is a necessary precondition for advancement of bilateral talks.

While the Palestinian Authority has shown a willingness in the past few weeks to work toward reconciliation, it has taken no operative decisions yet.

According to one Palestinian official, PA President Mahmoud Abbas will not take any significant steps before July 15, when the Palestinian Central Council is due to discuss several proposals for rapprochement. Abbas has recently received a number of suggestions in that vein from Palestinian intellectuals and public officials, including former Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

One proposal called for combining Hamas and Islamic Jihad with the Palestinian Liberation Organization in order to establish a united Palestinian government that would move to hold elections within six months.

A senior source involved in drafting that plan says that during the half-year period, none of the parties would take any diplomatic steps or any other actions that could have repercussions on Israel or the region. Should such a proposal be implemented, it would be the best rebuttal to Trump’s peace plan, which seeks to kill the issue of Palestinian nationalism, the official said.