(photo credit: Amr Abdallah Dalsh/ Reuters)
Hamas on Saturday invited Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi and leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood to visit the Gaza Strip.
Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, who is visiting Egypt for the first time since the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, relayed the invitation to Mursi and the Muslim Brotherhood leaders.
The Palestinian Authority leadership in the West Bank, meanwhile, has expressed disappointment with Mursi for inviting the Hamas prime minister to Cairo.
The PA position was delivered to the Egyptians through their envoy to Ramallah, a PA official told The Jerusalem Post
“We reminded the Egyptians that Haniyeh is not the legitimate prime minister and that he had been dismissed from his job by President Mahmoud Abbas about five years ago,” the official said.
Haniyeh met separately over the weekend with Mursi and leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood and discussed with them the situation in the Gaza Strip.
The Egyptians have decided to ease travel restrictions imposed on residents of the Gaza Strip, Haniyeh said following his meeting with Mursi – their first encounter since the Muslim Brotherhood candidate won the presidential vote.
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Haniyeh was the second Hamas leader to meet with Mursi in the past two weeks.
Earlier, Mursi met in Cairo with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal and discussed with him ways of easing various restrictions imposed on Palestinian travelers.
The Mashaal-Mursi meeting came one day after the Egyptian president met for the first time in Cairo with Abbas.
Hamas-affiliated media quoted Haniyeh as saying that he agreed with Mursi that Egypt would also help solve the electricity crisis in the Gaza Strip.
Haniyeh said that the most important agreement he reached with Mursi calls for opening the Rafah-Gaza border crossing for 12 hours every day – from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Until recently, the Egyptians opened the terminal only for a few hours every day and limited the number of Palestinian travelers to a few hundred.
The number of Palestinians who are permitted to travel through the Rafah terminal every day will rise to 1,500, Haniyeh added.
He said the Egyptians have also agreed to remove the names of 60 percent of the Palestinians on a list of people who are denied entry into Egypt.
Palestinians who arrive in Egypt from other countries will no longer be immediately deported and will be granted 72- hour entry visas, Haniyeh said.
The Egyptians, he continued, will increase the number of employees at the Rafah terminal to facilitate the travel of Palestinians.
“This is an advanced step toward easing the blockade on the Gaza Strip,” Haniyeh remarked.
With regards to the electricity crisis, Haniyeh said that he agreed with Mursi that Egypt would increase the amount of Qatari-supplied fuel needed to keep the only electricity power plant in the Gaza Strip, situated near the Nuseirat refugee camp, operating.
He said that he also agreed with Mursi on the reopening of the Egyptian Consulate in the Gaza Strip, which was closed after Hamas expelled the Palestinian Authority in 2007.
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