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.
Mursi met with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal – the first meeting of its kind
between the two men since the presidential election in Egypt.
came one day after Mursi met in Cairo with Palestinian Authority President
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
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
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
According to the source, Haniyeh will urge the new Egyptian
president to allow male Palestinians aged 18-40 to enter Egypt without a visa
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
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.