Senior Hamas Officials in Cairo for Talks

Ad Feedback - GAZA STRIP - A delegation of senior Hamas officials from Syria and the Gaza Strip arrived in Cairo Tuesday for talks with Egyptian Intelligence chief Omar Suleiman.

It was the highest-level Hamas delegation to travel to Cairo in several months. Disputes over Egypt's refusal to permanently open the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip and stalled negotiations on a prisoner swap for captured Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Corporal Gilad Shalit have thwarted the talks.

Syrian-based deputy chief of the group's political bureau, Musa Abu Marzouk, is leading the Hamas delegation. With him are Izzat al-Risheq and Muhammad Nussur, also from Syria, along with Gaza-based Mahmoud al-Zahar, Said Siam and Khalil Abut Hayeh.

Suleiman has been laying the ground work in meetings with Hamas officials and their counterparts in Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah faction, aimed at reuniting the two rival groups and establishing a unity government made up of "independent" figures from both sides.

Egypt's proposal calls for reforming the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), revamping Palestinian security forces, ending the June 2007 military coup by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, and holding presidential and legislative elections within a few months.

Senior Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar said his group needed to learn more about Egypt's proposal before making a decision.

Hamas political advisor Ahmed Yusef called the upcoming talks in Cairo a "last opportunity" for reconciliation with the Palestinian Authority.

"They either return from Cairo with good news or they [Fatah] will evaporate together with the Oslo Accords that brought the Palestinian Authority," Yusef said. "Today it's clear that the Palestinian Authority was responsible for the failure of the reconciliation efforts," he said.

Source: The Jerusalem Post

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