Egypt said to cancel visit of large Hamas delegation
Cairo is reportedly not impressed by Hamas’s new border patrols, nor answers to questions it posed in their last meeting
Dov Lieber is The Times of Israel's Arab affairs correspondent.
In another sign of deteriorating relations between Egypt and Hamas, Egyptian intelligence officials cancelled an invitation to a large Hamas delegation to visit their country, an Arabic newspaper reported on Tuesday.
A large Hamas delegation with members from Doha and Gaza, headed by deputy leader Moussa Abu Marzouk, had been invited to visit Cairo in the near future. However, informed sources told the London-based Arabic newspaper Rai al-Youm that the invitation was now canceled.
The reason for the cancelation, the report said, was that Egypt’s intelligence chiefs are not content with answers to questions posed to Hamas leaders during a meeting in Cairo between the two groups back in March.
Mahmoud al-Zahar, a high level Hamas official, told the newspaper that the trip was “delayed” until Hamas could come up with the right answers.
In March — at the first meeting held between Cairo and Gaza since ties between the two sides nosedived when Muslim Brotherhood official Mohammed Morsi was ousted as president in 2013, and replaced by former army chief Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi — Egyptian intelligence officials issued a number of demands and questions ahead of any possible reconciliation.
Egypt, along with Israel, has accused Hamas of supporting the Islamic State’s branch in its Sinai Peninsula. Cairo demanded that Hamas tighten border controls and prevent IS fighters from entering the Gaza Strip.
But the Egyptian officials are reportedly not satisfied with new measures introduced by Hamas on the Sinai border, which were taken following the March meeting, and believes Hamas is still interacting with IS.
During a meeting between Egyptian intelligence officials and another unnamed Palestinian faction last month, the Tuesday report said, Cairo’s representatives said they consider Hamas’s actions on the border “devoid of any practical content.”
Cairo also wants Hamas to cut ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, which is now outlawed in Egypt. Hamas has said it is no longer politically connected to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Perhaps most importantly, Cairo accuses Hamas, along with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, of being behind the assassination of its chief prosecutor Hisham Barakat in June 2015, and is demanding Hamas produce the individuals involved in the murder. Hamas has claimed innocence in the matter.