Hamas Says 'New Page Opened' With Egypt, but Cairo Silent After Talks

As talks in Cairo end, the group pledges nonintervention in Egyptian affairs and says more visits are on the agenda.

AP

A five-day visit by Hamas leaders to Cairo has “opened a new page and dialogue among friends,” a Hamas official said Wednesday, adding that the Palestinian group that rules Gaza would not “let anyone harm Egypt’s security.”

Moussa Abu Marzouk was speaking a day after the daily Al-Ahram reported that the reconciliation talks had failed when Egyptian intelligence officials showed proof of Hamas’ involvement in the assassination of Egypt’s prosecutor general last June. Hamas denied that report, which was based on comments by Egyptian security officials.

Egyptian Interior Minister Magdy Abdel Ghaffar said last week the suspects were members of the Muslim Brotherhood who had admitted to being trained by Hamas operatives in Gaza.

Cairo has also claimed that Hamas is collaborating with the Islamic State in the Sinai Peninsula.

This week, Hamas and Egypt discussed the assassination, efforts to achieve an intra-Palestinian reconciliation, a cease-fire between Hamas and Israel, a lifting of Israel and Egypt’s embargo on Gaza, and the opening of the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza.

“There will be further implications to this visit, including further visits,” Abu Marzouk said, adding that Hamas condemned the killing of Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat. He said Hamas had made clear to the Egyptians its position on politically motivated assassinations.

“Some people tried to foil this visit. They placed conditions and linked this to security concerns. Others defined themselves as spokesmen for the Palestinian people while other people threatened members of the delegation,” Abu Marzouk said.

“In practice, we found no truth to these statements and, on the contrary, we met senior Egyptian officials that bear only love in their hearts toward Palestine. We clarified our positions regarding nonintervention in Egypt’s internal affairs.”

As Abu Marzouk put it, “We won’t let anyone harm Egypt’s security, and the Gaza Strip will not be a refuge or hiding place for anyone wishing to do it harm. Our interest is to protect our common border. A deterioration of security in the Sinai will harm security in Gaza as well.”

Abu Marzouk gave no details on the talks but said Gaza-related issues were on the table including the opening of the Rafah crossing.

The Hamas delegation is now scheduled to leave for Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Lebanon, Turkey and Iran. Meetings in Qatar will be attended by Hamas leader Khaled Meshal, who is based in that country. The talks will address internal Hamas affairs and the stalled reconciliation among Palestinian factions.