Hamas leader visits Egypt for talks on Palestinian reconciliation
The chief of Hamas's political bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, arrived in Cairo on Tuesday morning to take part in Egyptian-mediated talks with the rival Fatah movement, which is headed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Other senior Hamas leaders, including deputy chairmen of the political bureau Salah Al-Arouri and Musa Abu Marzouk accompanied Haniyeh to Cairo.
A statement from Hamas said that the movement's delegation had arrived to take part in "discussions regarding various political and field developments".
Delegations from a number of Palestinian factions are due to travel from the Gaza Strip to Cairo on Wednesday to take part in the talks.
At the end of last month, Egypt invited the factions to Cairo to reach an agreement on a "shared vision for Palestinian national action" and an end to the divisions that have plagued Palestinian politics for over 15 years.
President Abbas’s Fatah movement is the dominant Palestinian faction in the West Bank, most of which remains under Israeli occupation, while Hamas, which has an Islamist orientation, has controlled the Gaza Strip since 2007, following a conflict with Fatah.
The first Palestinian elections in over 15 years were due to take place in May but President Abbas postponed them at the end of April on the grounds that Palestinians in Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem wouldn't be able to vote.
The talks in Cairo will be the first to take place since Israel's deadly 11-day assault on the Gaza Strip, which killed at least 254 Palestinians and injured hundreds more before ending on 21 May with a ceasefire.
Egypt has since conducted negotiations with Hamas and Israel aimed at making sure that the ceasefire stays in place for the long term.
Sources in Egypt told The New Arab’s Arabic-language service that an Israeli security delegation would also arrive in Cairo to discuss both the ceasefire and a possible prisoner exchange with Hamas.
Hamas, however, has been reluctant to discuss a prisoner exchange, refusing to link the issue with a long-term ceasefire in Gaza or the easing of a crippling Israeli siege on the Palestinian enclave.