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Hamas dispatches delegation to Egypt as Fatah split rumbles on

Fatah's Azam al-Ahmad (R)and Saleh al-Aruri (L) of Hamas sign a reconciliation deal at the Egyptian intelligence services headquarters in Cairo on October 12, 2017
KHALED DESOUKI (AFP)

A delegation from Gaza's Islamist rulers Hamas left for Egypt on Wednesday amid ongoing tension with its internal Palestinian rival in the West Bank.

Egypt, particularly its intelligence services, is seeking avenues to push the two sides to restart talks over a fleeting unity government that crumbled late last year.

In a statement, Hamas said that its deputy political leader in Gaza Saleh al-Arouri would head up the delegation in Cairo "to discuss bilateral relations and the latest developments surrounding the Palestinian cause and region with Egyptian officials."

Egypt has long acted as a broker between the Hamas and its rival Fatah, which controls the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority that is in theory also supposed to govern Gaza.

The two sides split in 2006 after Hamas won Palestinian elections, and was banished to Gaza in an near-civil war.

Several attempts at reconciliation since then have all foundered.

IDF

Earlier this month Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper reported that Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas is preparing a new push to form a national unity government with Hamas in an effort to counteract the Trump administration’s recent initiatives in the region ahead of the anticipated “deal of the century” to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

According to the newspaper's report, Abbas met with former Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad, whom he intends to appoint to lead the new government despite Fayyad’s resignation from the post in 2013 amid tensions between the leaders.

The two factions however joined together to blast Israel's decision to close the Kerem Shalom border crossing into Gaza earlier this week in response to fire kites and balloons that have been flown from Gaza into Israel, causing widespread damage.

The crossing has been frequently closed in recent months after being damaged by Palestinian rioters.

Egypt's intelligence service has also widely reported to have passed messages between Hamas and the Israeli government over the fate of at least two Israeli civilians held captive in Gaza, as well as the bodies of two fallen Israeli soldiers.

Hamas wants to exchange them in a mass prisoner swap deal but Israel refuses to contemplate an exchange on the scale of the release of Gilad Shalit in 2011, which saw more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners released from Israeli jails.

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Hamas is playing deadly game w Egypt & IL.

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