Top Hamas Leader Visits Egypt for First Time Since 2013

Ismail Haniyeh arrived in Egypt on his way back from Qatar, where head of Hamas Khaled Meshal resides. It was the highest-level visit from the organization since Egyptian President Morsi was overthrown.

Jack Khoury
The Associated Press
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Senior Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh gestures before delivering a farewell speech for his former position as a Hamas government prime minister, Gaza City, June 2, 2014.
Jack Khoury
The Associated Press

Hamas' top official from the Gaza Strip has arrived in Egypt for meetings with security officials, the highest level visit by a member of the Palestinian militant group since Egypt's army overthrew an Islamist president in 2013.

Egyptian security officials say Sheikh Ismail Haniyeh arrived late Sunday. Hamas officials confirmed the visit. All spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to brief reporters.

Haniyeh visited Egypt on his way back from Qatar, where he spent the last few weeks. Palestinian reports said he will discuss the relations between Egypt and Hamas with Egyptian intelligence officials, specifically focusing on the security situation in Sinai and the Gaza blockade.

Haniyeh is the deputy of Khaled Meshal, the leader of Hamas political bureau. Haniyeh is expected to take Meshal's place after the latter steps down.

Hamas, an Islamic militant group with historic links to Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, enjoyed warm relations with Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, a top Brotherhood figure who was overthrown by the military after a divisive year in power.

The Egyptian government tightened an Israeli-Egyptian blockade on Hamas-ruled Gaza shortly thereafter, but in recent months there have been signs of a thaw in relations.