Head of Hamas delegation Saleh Arouri and Fatah leader Azzam Ahmad sign a reconciliation deal in Cairo, Egypt, October 12, 2017..
(photo credit: REUTERS/AMR ABDALLAH DALSH)
Senior Hamas officials who held talks with Egyptian intelligence officials in Cairo over the past three days were scheduled to arrive in the Gaza Strip Thursday to meet with party leaders, sources close to the Islamist movement said.
Meanwhile, Hamas again rejected a demand by its rivals in Fatah to disarm and give security control of the Gaza Strip to the Palestinian Authority government.
It remained unclear late yesterday whether the Egyptians had made progress in their effort to end the Hamas-Fatah rift.
Three of the Hamas officials – Saleh al-Arouri, Izzat al-Risheq and Musa Abu Marzouk – are not based in Gaza, unlike the other three officials who participated in the discussions with the Egyptians
: Khalil al-Hayya, Rouhi Mushtaha and Husam Badran.
The Hamas delegation was summoned to Cairo a few days ago, as part of Egypt’s ongoing effort to end the Hamas-Fatah discord and to secure a long-term cease-fire between Hamas and Israel.
A Fatah delegation headed by Azzam al-Ahmad was also invited to Cairo, but did not meet with Hamas representatives. Fatah officials left Cairo at the end of July after presenting their response to a recent Egyptian proposal to end rivalry with Hamas.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum confirmed his movement’s leaders were scheduled to arrive in Gaza Thursday. He said Hamas officials would meet with other leaders in Gaza on issues related to achieving national unity and “ending the blockade on the Gaza Strip.”
Barhoum told the Hamas-affiliated Al-Resalah online newspaper that Hamas was “keen on the unity of the Palestinians and ensuring the success of the Egyptian mediation efforts on the basis of national partnership and previous agreements [signed between Hamas and Fatah].”
He then praised the Egyptians for their continued efforts to end the faction crisis and lift the blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip.
According to unconfirmed reports in several Arab media outlets, Hamas and Fatah delegations may return to Cairo this coming weekend for further talks with the Egyptians.
The reports said the two rival parties have yet to agree on two contentious issues: the future of Hamas’s civilian and security employees, and security control over the coastal enclave, which has been under Hamas control since 2007.
Fatah has refused to add the Hamas employees to the PA government’s payroll, saying they were appointed by an illegitimate (Hamas) government that staged a coup against the PA in 2007.
Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem was quoted on Thursday as saying his movement would not give up the “weapons of the resistance.” He also repeated Hamas’s demand that the PA government incorporate all employees hired by Hamas after the movement’s takeover of the Gaza Strip.