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Thursday, October 6, 2011     FOR YOUR EYES ONLY

Egypt, Hamas expand cooperation after signing post-Mubarak agreement

GAZA CITY — Hamas has signed what officials termed a strategic accord with Egypt that would end the siege on the Islamic-ruled Gaza Strip.


Officials said Egypt and Hamas signed their agreement in May in Cairo at the same time as Palestinian factions approved the establishment of a unity government. They said Egypt and Hamas have been expanding cooperation despite the failure of negotiations with the Fatah movement.

"There is a growing alliance between Hamas and Egypt based on security considerations," an official said.

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The agreement has been confirmed by Hamas. Officials said the accord called for Egypt to release Hamas prisoners and permanently open its border with the Gaza Strip for both people and goods, Middle East Newsline reported.

Officials said Egypt and Hamas agreed to engage in security and other cooperation. They said Egypt also pledged to oppose Israel's siege of the Gaza Strip, particularly in international forums.

Egyptian intelligence has sought to achieve a Fatah-Hamas reconciliation agreement since Hamas captured the Gaza Strip in 2007. Officials said Egypt provided its most far-reaching commitments to Hamas after the fall of President Hosni Mubarak in February.

Until Mubarak's ouster, Cairo's negotiations with Hamas and Fatah were headed by Egyptian intelligence director Maj. Gen. Omar Suleiman. Suleiman, who was briefly vice president, was replaced by Gen. Murad Muwafi, said to have been given a mandate to offer better terms to Hamas.

The Egypt-Hamas agreement also included a commitment by the new military regime in Cairo to support Hamas in international forums. In exchange, officials said, Hamas would provide information to Egypt on security threats from the Gaza Strip, including the infiltration of Al Qaida-aligned insurgents to the neighboring Sinai Peninsula.

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