Photo Credit: Majdi Fathi/TPS
A Hamas press conference in Gaza. Dec. 29, 2020

Messages Hamas recently received from Egypt indicate that President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi understands that Hamas is a full partner in the Gaza reconstruction process and the future of the Strip, a Hamas source told TPS.

Egypt has recently been working to integrate Hamas into the Palestinian Authority through changes in the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), the source said. The conference of secretaries of the Palestinian factions, which is scheduled to take place this week in Cairo, at the invitation of the President of Egypt, will also deal with this.

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“Resistance in all its forms has made Hamas a fait accompli that cannot be circumvented in creating relationships and understandings in the region, and not just in the Gaza Strip,” the Hamas source said. “Egypt recognizes Hamas as a fact and this is a change from recent years in which Egypt has worked to return the Palestinian Authority to the Gaza Strip,” he said. “Egypt now understands that integrating Hamas into the Palestinian decision-making system is a condition for a long-term Hudna (ceasefire),” he added.

The source in Hamas also said that Turkey and Egypt are coordinated and see eye to eye on the issue of Hamas’s role in the Gaza Strip, emphasizing that Egypt now understands that there is no chance of moving Hamas out of the Gaza Strip and it should be recognized as a center of Palestinian power.

“Egypt’s situation and the renewed relationship between al-Sisi and Erdogan [of Turkey] are pushing Egypt into action that will raise al-Sisi’s stakes in the eyes of the United States, while Abu Mazen’s failure, corruption in the PA and the disintegration of Fatah stand out to the Egyptian eye,” he explained.

“The new power struggle that Hamas is imposing on Israel has led Egypt to think outside the box, “he concluded.

The Al-Arabi Al-Jadid paper recently reported that Egypt is officially ignoring the Palestinian Authority and Mahmoud Abbas, after clarifying its role in thwarting internal reconciliation, adding that the Egyptian president’s statement on allocating $ 500 million to rehabilitate the Gaza Strip did not include reference to the Palestinian Authority, as well as the opening of the Rafah crossing without requiring the presence of officials from the PA.

A Palestinian Authority source said in this regard that “a change in Egypt’s attitude towards Hamas can be seen, however, this should not be seen as an intention to push the Palestinian Authority aside.

On the other hand, a Fatah source estimates that “while the PA and Fatah are still betting on the Israeli and American stance toward Hamas, they do not understand that the Biden government has given Egypt a green light for every move in the Gaza Strip.”

“I think Abbas does not understand the nature of the radical changes that are taking place now and especially while the West Bank is more supportive of Hamas after it acted alone with the residents of eastern Jerusalem. This is also the best indication that the alternative to Abbas has become Hamas and Israel must internalize these changes,” he said.

“Egypt is now increasingly inclined to cooperate with Hamas so that it can formulate an agreement based on a long-term truce and in return Egypt is working to recognize Hamas as a key partner in the Palestinian political system and the PLO,” a Palestinian source said.

The source pointed out that “officials in Europe are already talking directly and indirectly with Hamas” and to their efforts to form a national unity government through democratic elections while “understanding that Hamas is currently the most powerful factor in the Palestinian arena under the weak Abu Mazen,” he said.

“Abu Mazen and his entourage do not understand and gamble on the Israeli position and the crisis in the Israeli political system as a means of returning them to the center of the Palestinian arena,” the Palestinian source added.

“Gaza is becoming the center of gravity in the Palestinian internal equation and is the one that is more influential than Ramallah on the regional moves,” he told TPS.

In recent years, there have been voices in Israel in favor of direct negotiations with Hamas. TPS has learned that in an informal meeting held in Egypt about two years ago, an Israeli source proposed involving Hamas in planning the future of the Gaza Strip and seeing it as a partner, but the Egyptians rejected this approach outright.

Now, the first signs of change are encouraging Hamas and worrying Ramallah.

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Baruch reports on Arab affairs for TPS.
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