Egypt - President Mohamed Mursi Meets Hamas Leader


Gaza Islamist leader Ismail Haniyeh met Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi on Thursday in an official visit that signaled a big shift in Cairo's stance toward the Hamas movement after the election of a Muslim Brotherhood head of state in Egypt.

A Palestinian official said the head of Egyptian intelligence had promised measures to increase the flow of fuel supplied by Qatar to Gaza via Egypt and needed to ease the small Palestinian territory's power shortages. The sides had also discussed increasing the flow of Palestinians across the border.
But there was no immediate sign that Cairo was ready to open up its border with Gaza to the extent sought by Hamas, something analysts partly attributed to the influence still wielded by the Hosni Mubarak-era security establishment.

"Mursi's heart is with Hamas but his mind is elsewhere," said Hany al-Masri, a Palestinian political commentator. "He will give them as much as he can but he won't be able to give them much because his powers are restricted," he said.
Mursi's victory was celebrated in Gaza as a turning point for a territory whose economy has been choked by a blockade imposed by Israel and in which Egypt took part by stopping everything but a trickle of people from crossing the border.
But as head of state, Mursi must balance support for Gaza with the need to respect international commitments, including Egypt's peace treaty with Israel. "He will be very cautious," said Mustapha Kamel Al-Sayyid, an Egyptian analyst. "The intelligence and the military will have their say on this."
In a statement, Hamas said Mursi had "promised to take measures that would ease the lives of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip". Mursi's spokesman said the meeting had touched on subjects including "lifting the siege and the suffering of the people in Gaza" and reconciliation with Hamas's arch-rival the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority, led by Mahmoud Abbas.
Sworn in on June 30, Mursi is trying to stamp his authority on an Egyptian state still influenced to a large degree by a council of military generals led by Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, Mubarak's defense minister for two decades.

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