Senior Egyptian intelligence official arrives in Gaza for talks
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Senior Egyptian intelligence official arrives in Gaza for talks

Cairo is trying to advance intra-Palestinian reconciliation and a possible ceasefire between Israel and Hamas

Adam Rasgon is the Palestinian affairs reporter at The Times of Israel

Egyptian intelligence chief Abbas Kamel attends a meeting of Egyptian and Sudanese foreign ministers and heads of intelligence at Tahrir Palace, in Cairo, Egypt, February 8, 2018. (Khaled Elfiqi/Pool photo via AP)
Egyptian intelligence chief Abbas Kamel attends a meeting of Egyptian and Sudanese foreign ministers and heads of intelligence at Tahrir Palace, in Cairo, Egypt, February 8, 2018. (Khaled Elfiqi/Pool photo via AP)

A senior Egyptian intelligence official arrived in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, the Hamas-linked Palestinian Information Center reported, two days before Egyptian General Intelligence Services chief Abbas Kamel is slated to visit the coastal enclave.

Ahmed Abdelkhaliq, the head of the Palestinian file in the Egyptian General Intelligence Services, entered Gaza through the Erez crossing Tuesday afternoon, where he was greeted by Tawfiq Abu Naim, the head of the Hamas-run security apparatus in the coastal enclave, the Palestinian Information Center report said.

Reports in other Hamas-affiliated news sites said Abdelkhaliq is expected to hold talks with Hamas leaders about intra-Palestinian reconciliation.

Egypt has recently made efforts to revive the reconciliation process between Hamas and Fatah, hosting leaders from the two rival parties for separate talks in Cairo in the past month.

In October 2017, Hamas and Fatah signed an Egyptian-brokered deal to advance reconciliation and bring the West Bank and Gaza under one government, but they failed to implement it.

In this Saturday Dec. 19, 2015 photo, Palestinians walk past a painted house in the Shati refugee camp in Gaza City. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)

Hamas has controlled Gaza since ousting the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority from the territory in 2007.

The reports in the Hamas-linked news sites also said Abdelkhaliq is slated to speak to Hamas leaders about a possible ceasefire between the terror group and Israel.

Egypt, alongside United Nations special coordinator for the Middle East peace process Nikolay Mladenov, has recently played a key role in attempts to mediate a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel.

Abdelkhaliq will also be preparing for the arrival of Kamel in Gaza on Thursday for meetings with Hamas leaders in the Strip, the Palestinian Information Center report added, citing a security source.

Kamel has not visited Gaza since taking over as the head of the Egyptian General Intelligence Services earlier this year. 

On Tuesday, posters of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Kamel and Egyptian flags were seen in some parts of Gaza.

“Adel Mustafa Murtaja for Trade and Investment welcomes the visit of Egyptian General Intelligence Services Minister Abbas Kamel,” read one poster at the upscale Al-Mashtal Hotel in Gaza City.

Adel Mustafa Murtaja for Trade and Investment is a Gaza-based business.

Later this week, Kamel will also be visiting Israel to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat, and Shin Bet chief Nadav Argaman, Channel 10 reported last Thursday.

Following his visits to Gaza and Israel, Kamel will also head to Ramallah to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, the New Arab, a London-based news outlet, reported.

Ramallah-based Palestinian officials have said Fatah-Hamas reconciliation should precede any possible ceasefire. They have also contended that the Palestine Liberation Organization is the sole party with the legitimacy to negotiate a ceasefire with Israel.

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