Cairo agrees to host Hamas headquarters, Arabic daily says

A year after leaving Damascus, Islamists reportedly find a new home

Elhanan Miller is the former Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel

Less than one year after closing its headquarters in Damascus, Hamas’s “outside” leadership has found a new home in the Egyptian capital of Cairo.

Hamas leaders are split between Gaza, where they took violent control in 2007, the West Bank, where they seek to gain control, and elsewhere in the region.

London-based daily Al-Hayat reported Tuesday that Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood administration has agreed to open a Hamas office in eastern Cairo and establish a joint committee with Hamas to discuss issues of security along the Gaza-Egypt border.

Hamas’s Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh will meet with his counterpart Hisham Kandil in Egypt on Thursday, the daily said.

Relations between Egypt and Hamas experienced a sharp decline after August 5 when gunmen attacked an Egyptian army outpost near the border, killing 16 Egyptian soldiers, before storming into Israel. Egypt blamed Gaza for allowing Islamist terrorists to cross over into Sinai unnoticed through smuggling tunnels along the border.

Al-Hayat reported that the new security committee will exchange intelligence information regarding the border area. Prominent members of Hamas will be part of the new committee, including Ahmad Ja’abari, commander of the Al-Qassam Brigades (the movement’s military wing); Moussa Abu-marzouq; Bassem Na’im; and Ayman Taha, a security adviser to PM Ismail Haniyeh.

During his visit to Cairo on Thursday, Haniyah will discuss the creation of a free trade zone near the Rafah Border Crossing and the connection of Gaza to a regional electric grid, rendering it independent of Israeli energy. In return, Al-Hayat reports, Hamas agreed to hand over a number of suspects in the August attack to Egypt.

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