Hamas's Haniyeh set to meet Egypt President Mursi

By
July 26, 2012 07:41

Gaza-based PM hopes meeting will lead to gradual lifting of travel restrictions imposed on Palestinians, source says.

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Hamas's Haniyeh enters Egypt through Rafah

Hamas's Haniyeh enters Egypt through Rafah 370. (photo credit:Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters)

Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh is expected to meet in Cairo on Thursday with Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi.

Haniyeh, who left the Gaza Strip through the Rafah border terminal Wednesday, is accompanied by a 17-member delegation of Hamas officials and businessmen. He will be the second Hamas leader to meet with Mursi since the latter assumed power.

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Last week, Mursi met with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal – the first meeting of its kind between the two men since the presidential election in Egypt.

The meeting came one day after Mursi met in Cairo with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Ousted president Hosni Mubarak had never met with any representative of Hamas.

Leaders of Hamas who were invited to Cairo in the past few years held meetings only with Egyptian security officials.

Under Mubarak, the Egyptian authorities had treated Hamas as a security, and not political, issue.

Moreover, Mubarak’s regime had never recognized the legitimacy of the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas is hoping the meetings with Mursi would lead to a gradual lifting of travel restrictions imposed on Palestinians, especially those living in the Gaza Strip, a source close to the Islamist movement said Wednesday.

According to the source, Haniyeh will urge the new Egyptian president to allow male Palestinians aged 18-40 to enter Egypt without a visa entry.

Haniyeh, the source added, will also request that Egypt help transfer Qatari-supplied fuel to the Gaza Strip to avoid a humanitarian crisis. The Egyptians have refused to cooperate in the transfer of the fuel through their territories, offering instead that it be sent to the Gaza Strip through a border crossing with Israel.

Another source said that Haniyeh is carrying a plan to establish a free-trade zone along the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt.

Earlier this week, Egyptian and Palestinian sources claimed that Mursi had instructed his government to stop deporting Palestinians who arrive by plane at Cairo Airport without an entry visa. Mursi is also reported to have instructed his government to stop harassing and detaining Palestinian travelers who enter Egypt from the Gaza Strip.


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