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Hamas chief to discuss 'thorny' files in Cairo meeting

Hamas' political bureau chief Ismail Haniyeh gestures to supporters before delivering a speech during a visit to the Ain el-Helweh camp, Lebanon's largest Palestinian refugee camp, near the southern coastal city of Sidon on September 6, 2020 [MAHMOUD ZAYYAT/AFP via Getty Images]
Hamas' political bureau chief Ismail Haniyeh gestures to supporters before delivering a speech during a visit to the Ain el-Helweh camp, Lebanon's largest Palestinian refugee camp, near the southern coastal city of Sidon on September 6, 2020 [MAHMOUD ZAYYAT/AFP via Getty Images]

Head of Hamas's Political Bureau Ismail Haniyeh is expected to arrive in Cairo to discuss several "thorny" files with Egyptian officials, most notably the ceasefire agreement with Israel.

Haniyeh stated in an interview with the Qatari Al-Jazeera TV channel on Wednesday that during his visit to Cairo scheduled for Sunday, he would discuss several files related to: "Consolidating the ceasefire agreement, the reconstruction of Gaza, national unity and endorsing the steadfastness of the Palestinian people."

Meanwhile, the Israeli state-owned Kan channel reported on Wednesday evening that Egypt called on Israel, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority (PA) to hold talks in Cairo on major files, including sustaining the current ceasefire and improving conditions in the Gaza Strip.

Four Files

Hamas Spokesperson Hazem Qassem told Anadolu Agency: "Haniyeh will discuss in Egypt a number of files related to the latest developments in Gaza, some of which are related to bilateral relations between the two parties."

Qassem explained that the first file for deliberation consists mainly of: "Putting an end to Israel's aggression on the Gaza Strip and the Palestinian people in general, and establishing a ceasefire between the resistance factions and Israel."

The Hamas official added that the second file concerns: "The reconstruction of Gaza after the recent war," noting: "We will discuss Egypt's role in this issue."

He stated that the discussion would include a file on: "Egypt's role in forcing the occupation to remove the detonators that caused the recent escalation in Gaza."

Qassem pointed out that Haniyeh will discuss a fourth file during his visit: "That includes bilateral issues between the movement and Egypt, and other subjects related to the general situation in Palestine," without disclosing further details.

The file of captured soldiers

Regarding the Israeli soldiers captured and held by Hamas, Qassem said that the occupation is still stalling, while the Israeli government is unwilling to make any concessions regarding this file.

He stressed that the file concerning the captured Israeli soldiers is separate and will not be discussed within the reconstruction and ceasefire files.

"This file is linked to an indirect swap deal (with the mediation of a neutral intermediary) between the movement and the occupation, and the issue has not been discussed via other channels."

Consolidating the ceasefire agreement

Hamas's leader in the Gaza Strip Yahya Sinwar described the ceasefire recently established with the Israeli side through international and regional mediation as "fragile".

In an interview with Anadolu Agency on Thursday, Sinwar said that this truce: "Did not include a drastic solution to the roots of the problem."

He asserted that the recent accord only stipulates: "A simultaneous and mutual ceasefire on both sides. The situation depends on the occupation's behaviour during the coming days."

The movement leader added that the issue: "Is closely linked to the pressures exerted by the international community and world on the occupation to respect the rights of the Palestinian people, international resolutions and international law."

Egypt's role

Writer and political analyst Talal Okal told Anadolu Agency that the ties between Egypt and Hamas are "robust and based on mutual trust."

Okal explained: "This was evident through the Egyptian role in advancing internal Palestinian relations and supporting the Palestinian elections, to which Hamas responded positively, and also the recent role (played by Cairo) in stopping the aggression on Gaza and the response to such intervention as well."

He quoted Sinwar as saying during an interview with writers and journalists that: "Hamas responded to Egypt's ceasefire request during the recent aggression, despite ongoing preparations to launch missiles towards Israel at the time."

The political analyst considers that this is a clear indication of the convenient relations between Hamas and Egypt, and the deep sense of understanding between the two sides, as the movement did not hesitate to respond positively to the Egyptian proposals.

Okal believes that the assessment of the situation may be applicable in the Cairo negotiations between Haniyeh and Egyptian parties in a way that can contribute to facilitating the discussion of the issues at hand.

The academic commented that the upcoming negotiations would not necessarily lead to solving the causes of the recent escalation, considering Israeli intransigence. However, he does not rule out another escalation between the two sides in the event that Israel provokes the Palestinians.

He pointed out that the features of the new phase, if the situation explodes again, will not be the same as before, highlighting that Secretary-General of the Lebanese Hezbollah Hassan Nasrallah linked the regional war with Jerusalem, indicating Hezbollah's intention to join efforts with the factions to defend Jerusalem.

'Thorny' files

Meanwhile, Wadih Abu Nassar, a political analyst and expert on Israeli affairs, said that a number of "thorny and major files" await Haniyeh on the negotiation table in Egypt.

Abu Nassar stated in an interview with Anadolu Agency that Israel appeared: "As if it has lost the last battle, will not make major concessions during the indirect negotiations on sustaining the armistice," noting that Hamas is aware that "Israel is not eager to make compromises."

He pointed out that it is probable that Israel would attempt to: "Obstruct the negotiations, which may lead to the failure in reaching solutions to stabilise the truce."

The political analyst believes that Hamas faces a dilemma in light of the continuing Israeli violations in the city of Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque, confirming that: "The Palestinians in Jerusalem and inside Israel raised the ceiling of their expectations regarding Hamas's response to these attacks."

As for the reconstruction file, he stressed: "This file needs extensive planning to discuss the reconstruction mechanism." Abu Nassar noted that this file would clash with Israel's endeavour: "To prevent Hamas from taking advantage of this process."

On 13 April, tension in the Palestinian territories escalated due to brutal attacks committed by the Israeli police and settlers in occupied Jerusalem, especially in Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood.

On 21 May, at dawn, a ceasefire between the Palestinian resistance factions in Gaza and Israel came into force after 11 days of fighting.

The Israeli aggression on the Palestinian territories resulted in a total death toll of 288 martyrs, including 69 children, 40 women and 17 elderly people, in addition to more than 8,900 wounded. In addition to this was the destruction of hundreds of housing units, government headquarters and economic facilities.

On the other hand, 13 Israelis were killed and hundreds injured, as the factions in Gaza responded to the aggression by firing rockets towards Israel.

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