Hamas delegation to Egypt fails to improve relations, report says

Hamas refused to admit responsibility in Sinai security incidents, Al-Ahram says.

March 16, 2016 12:57
1 minute read.
Palestinian Hamas militants take part in a protest against Israel

Palestinian Hamas militants take part in a protest against the Israeli police raid on Jerusalem's al-Aksa mosque in Khan Yunis. (photo credit: REUTERS)

A delegation of senior Hamas members who traveled to Cairo in recent days in an effort to improve relations between the Islamist regime and the Egyptian government has failed to achieve its objective, according to an Egyptian newspaper report on Tuesday.

Al-Ahram reported that the attempt to mend relations with the government of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi failed due to Hamas’s refusal to admit any responsibility for Sinai terrorist incidents and its “refusal to admit mistakes.”

According to the report, Egyptian authorities presented to Hamas evidence of Hamas’s involvement in Sinai incidents, with a view to setting up a joint investigation, “but the Hamas delegation did not show a will to cooperate.”

The report said Egypt views the Palestinian Authority as the only side that can hold talks on strategic issues, such as opening the Rafah border crossing and setting up a port in the Gaza Strip. Hamas, under pressure from Egypt’s demolition of Sinai-Gaza tunnels, is keen on achieving both goals to avoid a collapse of its economy.

Hamas continues to be in a state of strategic distress due to ongoing Egyptian hostility, which has kept the Rafah border crossing shut with few exceptions over the past year. The failure to advance reconciliation efforts with the Palestinian Authority has also increased pressure.

Hopes by Hamas’s political wing for a new alliance with Saudi Arabia faded in recent months. The Saudis, who provide heavy economic assistance to Egypt, are concerned about the prospect of Gaza falling under increased Iranian influence, and have asked the Egyptians to ensure that the Gaza Strip does not collapse.

Iran, for its part, continues to send funds to Hamas’s military wing, mostly through money exchange stores in Cairo, before the funds are smuggled through Sinai and into Gaza. Iranian attempts to smuggle weapons to Gaza have floundered due to the demolition of smuggling tunnels, and Hamas’s military wing has turned to domestic production centers to manufacture rockets and mortar shells.

The military wing is also investing heavily in digging a network of tunnels for use against Israel.

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