Senior Hamas official Mahmoud Al-Zahar has revealed that the movement has agreed to Egyptian demands for talks to restore mutual relations, AlMesryoon.com reported on Sunday. He noted that a Hamas delegation is due to meet Egyptian officials in Cairo to discuss this issue.
Al-Zahar did not give details about the demands, but according to the London-based Al-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper, informed sources said that the demands are related to tackling Salafist extremists in Gaza, disengagement from the Muslim Brotherhood, controlling the border and refuting allegations of espionage and weapons smuggling.
The sources also claimed that, in return, Egypt would open the Rafah Crossing, release the four Hamas members who were kidnapped in Sinai, stop propaganda campaigns against the movement, stop pumping seawater into the cross-border tunnels and resume Cairo’s role in truce talks between the Palestinian resistance and Israel. The Egyptian government would also mediate in reconciliation talks between Hamas and Fatah.
However, it was pointed out that the Rafah Crossing is unlikely to be opened unless security forces from the Palestinian Authority (PA) are stationed there. Egypt, it is claimed, told Hamas that opening the border crossing is connected to a political decision, including the return of the Ramallah-based PA to Gaza.
Al-Sharq Al-Awsat’s sources claimed that Hamas has offered all it can regarding the Rafah issue, including the concession of the PA in Gaza and accepting the formation of a unity government. They noted that the government has not fulfilled its obligations in the besieged territory.
The newspaper report said that Hamas has actually started a campaign against the Salafists in Gaza and arrested a number of them. It has also removed all pictures and graffiti around the Gaza Strip which link it to the Muslim Brotherhood, and has hung a large banner in central Gaza which proclaims, “We have only a peaceful attitude towards Egypt”.