According to the source, the outcome of the negotiations, led by Hamas’ deputy head of diplomacy Mousa Abu Marzouk (pictured) and Egyptian officials, was Egypt’s agreement this week to allow vehicles and goods into the Strip via the Rafah crossing. He said that the purpose of these measures is to benefit the Egyptian economy, and to bolster Hamas’ status and security along the Gaza-Egypt border.
“We cannot deny that Egypt’s gestures have been coordinated with Israel, but the bottom line is that Egyptian goods have entered the Strip, which benefits the Egyptian economy,” he said. “We, on our part, continue to enforce the peace along the border and prevent pro-Islamic State jihadists from using the territory as a launching pad for attacks against Egypt.”
He added that Abu Marzouk and Cairo agreed on setting up a joint command to fend of local Salafi extremism, and that he briefed the Egyptian intelligence on all the information Hamas had gathered from interrogating the jihadists it detained, which could serve Egypt in its ongoing effort to clamp down on Welayat Sinai, the local IS affiliate.
“We know that Egypt is still committed to the principle of Palestinian security officials manning the crossings between Sinai and Gaza, but in the meantime it benefits Hamas for a short-term gain in its war on IS in Sinai,” he said. “I would say that Egypt was manipulated by Hamas into submission. First they helped the jihadists in Sinai and now they help Egypt in their struggle against the same jihadists who had become a bigger threat thanks to Hamas, among other things. It’s a grave situation that perpetuates the Palestinian divisions and allows Hamas to continue its rule of Gaza.”
The official charged that Egypt sought to punish President Mahmoud Abbas for turning down Cairo’s bid to end his dispute with his former loyalist and now arch-rival Mohamed Dahlan.
Dahlan is said to be on excellent terms with Egyptian President Abdel Fatah Sisi and has been tapped as Egypt’s preferred successor to the presidency. Before last month’s Fatah conference, Abbas turned down an effort promoted by Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Jordan to ensure unity in the movement’s leadership. Cairo was allegedly livid at Abbas’ refusal, and the recent thaw with Hamas, the official said, is an expression of it.