The head of the Egyptian General Intelligence Service, Minister Abbas Kamel, on his first visit to Gaza today, Monday, will discuss with the leadership of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) 3 main files, and other issues related to the Palestinian situation.
Kamel’s visit, as the highest-ranking Egyptian official, to Gaza comes in the context of the remarkable shift in the Egyptian official position towards Gaza and Hamas, which emerged during and after the recent Israeli war, within the framework of a ceasefire agreement sponsored by Cairo at the dawn of May 21. Read also How can Israel be held accountable for its crimes in the Gaza Strip?”Ambulance” .. Rescue vehicles utter the pain of Gaza during the war The four wars against Gaza .. What are the preludes, events, and outcomes in terms of martyrs and wounded?
And Gaza witnessed huge pictures of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in major squares and Egyptian flags in the streets.
Sources close to Hamas revealed to Al-Jazeera Net that the talks between Kamel and Hamas, led by the head of its political office in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, will focus on 3 main files related to the Gaza Strip, and other issues related to Palestinian public affairs.
The sources pointed out that the three files relate to Cairo’s endeavor to develop the ceasefire agreement into a “long-term calm” that would guarantee security and stability, and pave the way for the reconstruction of what was destroyed by the recent war.
The second file relates to reconstruction and the expected role of Egypt in this regard, in light of Israeli restrictions and conditions linking it to the third file on the visit’s agenda, which relates to the Israeli prisoners
According to the sources, Egypt understands Hamas’s position on the exchange deal, and is seeking to sponsor a deal similar to the one it concluded in 2011 that resulted in the release of Hamas, the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, in exchange for the liberation of more than a thousand Palestinian prisoners.
Kamel met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the start of his visit to the region, and according to a statement issued by Netanyahu’s office, he called on the Egyptian official to restore “the soldiers and civilians held by Hamas in Gaza as soon as possible.”
Netanyahu discussed with Kamel “mechanisms that would prevent Hamas from strengthening its military capabilities and preventing it from using resources that will be directed in the future to support the residents of the Strip.”
Kamel’s visit to Israel coincided with a similar visit by Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi to Cairo, the first for an Israeli foreign minister since 2008, during which he met his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry, and discussed “ways to stabilize the ceasefire in Gaza.”
From Cairo, Ashkenazi linked the issue of reconstructing Gaza with Israel’s return of its prisoners to Hamas.
Hamas is sticking to a swap deal
Hamas leader Ismail Radwan rejected the Israeli requirements, and told Al Jazeera Net that “the prisoner exchange file has nothing to do with reconstruction.”
He stressed that Hamas will not release its Israelis without Israel offering “the price demanded by the resistance.”
Hamas had previously succeeded in two previous times in separating the file of the prisoner exchange deal and the reconstruction file, after it strongly rejected the Israeli link between the two files.
Hamas rejected after the first war (2008-2009) Israeli conditions linking the reconstruction to the liberation of Shalit, whom it captured in June 2006, and it rejected again this link after the third war in 2014.
The writer close to Hamas, Ibrahim Al-Madhoun, told Al-Jazeera Net that Muhammad Al-Deif, commander-in-chief of the Ezz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades (the military wing of Hamas) takes the file of the exchange deal as a “combat doctrine” and has a “personal commitment” to the families of Palestinian prisoners that the Israeli prisoners will not be released except by whitewashing. Occupation prisons, or at least the completion of an “honorable” exchange deal similar to the Shalit deal.
Professor of political science, Dr. Hani Al-Basous, in his speech to Al-Jazeera Net, rules out a close deal because Israel is trying to invest in the reality in Gaza after the war and is not willing to pay a price for a prisoner exchange, as Hamas stipulates.
Hamas maintains two Israeli soldiers whose families were captured during the 2014 war, and refuses to reveal their fate, whether they are alive or dead, in addition to two others who hold Israeli citizenship and entered Gaza at different times and in mysterious circumstances.
With regard to the reconstruction file, Sinwar had repeatedly stressed since the war ended that Hamas would facilitate the reconstruction tasks, and would not take “a single penny” from the money coming into Gaza.
Radwan stressed that “the resistance does not need reconstruction funds in order to develop its capabilities and capabilities.”
Official statistics indicate that the Israeli war, which lasted for 11 days, caused massive destruction of 1,800 housing units, including multi-storey towers.
Hamas proposes the formation of a national council independent of the Palestinian Authority to supervise the reconstruction file, with the aim of overcoming the suspicions of corruption and obstacles encountered in this file that caused slow reconstruction of what was destroyed by the 2014 war, which the Authority and Israel reject.
The Egyptian minister, who met with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, is expected to inform the Hamas leadership in Gaza that the reconstruction process will be carried out in full coordination with the Authority.
A source close to the Egyptian security delegation told Al-Jazeera Net that Minister Kamel will lay the foundation stone for an Egyptian residential city south of Gaza City during his visit, which lasts for hours, within the context of President Sisi’s pledge to contribute to the reconstruction of what the war has destroyed.
Al-Bassous does not place the current Egyptian movement in the context of the Egyptian regime’s “strategic shift” towards Hamas, but rather seeks to be the largest economic beneficiary of the reconstruction through companies affiliated with the Egyptian armed forces.
Arranging the Palestinian house
After his closed meeting with the Hamas leadership, the Egyptian minister will meet with representatives of the Palestinian factions to discuss reviving the Palestinian reconciliation file, which was stalled following President Abbas’s decision to postpone the legislative elections that were scheduled for May 22.
And fully discussed with President Abbas in Ramallah the file of the Palestinian national dialogue, and Cairo’s willingness to host meetings of the general secretaries of the factions in order to revive reconciliation efforts and end the division.
Since the end of the war, the region has witnessed a remarkable momentum in the movement of delegations and personalities within the framework of strenuous international efforts to reach a ceasefire agreement to a long-term truce agreement in Gaza between Israel and the resistance factions.