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Sunday, March 27, 2016

Hamas delegation from Muslim brotherhood 'Den' Qatar returns to Cairo for more talks with Egypt.

Hamas delegation from Muslim brotherhood 'Den' Qatar returns to Cairo for more talks with Egypt. (AlAhram).

A Hamas delegation returned to Cairo from Doha on Sunday to resume discussions with Egyptian officials in the second leg of talks on the future of the Islamist movement's relationship with Egypt.

The visit to Cairo by officials from Hamas, which has ruled the Israeli-besieged Gaza Strip since 2006, comes less than two weeks after Hamas officials held similar talks with their Egyptian counterparts in Cairo.

Hamas is expected to respond on Sunday to Egyptian requests made in earlier talks.

Prior to the delegation's arrival in Cairo, a member of the Hamas politburo, Mahmoud Al-Zahar, said that the movement is going to treat the Egyptian demands "positively."

Egypt has stipulated several demands to improve its relations with Hamas, according to Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, including a pledge of non-interference by Hamas in Egyptian affairs; cooperation with Cairo on investigations over issues that affect Egyptian security; and stopping extremists and hostile parties from entering or leaving the Strip from Sinai.

The demands also include severing Hamas' ties with the banned Muslim Brotherhood and the prevention of cross-border smuggling activity.

Hamas will present its requests to the Egyptian side during the visit, including the opening of the Rafah border crossing, which has been closed most days of the year by Egyptian authorities since the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013; a halt of media campaigns against the movement, an end to the Egyptian flooding of cross-border tunnels; and the return of four Hamas members who "disappeared" last year in Sinai.

Hamas also wants more trade between the two sides; the resumption of Egyptian efforts in mediating the mutual observation of a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel; and the continuation of Cairo's role in mediating between Hamas, the Palestinian Authority and Israel.

The Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Sinai is the only way for 1.5 million Palestinians who live under Israeli siege in Gaza in and out of the Strip.

A Palestinian diplomatic source privy to recent developments in Hamas-Egypt relations told Ahram Online that the movement has recently changed its attitude towards Egypt.

The source said Hamas has taken action on the ground in Gaza on security issues of concern to Cairo, and has revised its relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood ahead of today's visit.

According to media reports, the Palestinian Islamist movement has removed posters and slogans of the Muslim Brotherhood and its leaders around Gaza streets following the first round of talks with Cairo in an act of reconciliation with Egypt.

Relations between Hamas and Egypt soured following Morsi's ouster, with Egyptian officials repeatedly linking Hamas to terror acts in Egypt.

Egypt has regularly accused Hamas of supporting Islamist militants who have been waging a 10-year-old insurgency against Egyptian security forces in North Sinai.

Earlier this month, Egypt's interior minister Magdy Abdel-Ghaffar accused Hamas members of conspiring with the Brotherhood to assassinate Egypt's prosecutor-general Hisham Barakat in June 2015.

The Palestinian group has repeatedly denied these accusations.

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