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Egyptian, Palestinian leaders meet amid likely Gaza shakeup that could sideline Mahmoud Abbas

Mahmoud Abbas could be sidelined under the new UAE-backed deal [Getty]

Date of publication: 9 July, 2017

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Egyptian and Palestinian leaders have met amid signs of rapprochement between Cairo and the Islamic militant Hamas group that could shake up Gaza's political landscape and sideline the Palestinian president

Egyptian and Palestinian leaders have met amid signs of a rapprochement between Cairo and the Islamic militant Hamas group that could shake up Gaza's political landscape and sideline the Palestinian president.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Egypt's Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi met Sunday.

Officials close to Abbas said the Palestinian leader had requested the meeting to seek clarifications on what appears to be an emerging power-sharing agreement between Gaza's Hamas rulers and an exiled Abbas rival, former Gaza strongman Mohammed Dahlan.

Under the deal - parts of which have been confirmed by other parties involved - Hamas would retain control over Gaza's security, while Dahlan would eventually return to Gaza and handle its foreign relations.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak to the media.

It comes after the PA issued a litany of punitive measures against Gaza in recent months, including the refusal to pay for electricity to the coastal territory.

Read more: Gulf crisis opens door to UAE-backed power shift in Palestine

Months earlier, the Palestinian Authority cut salaries to workers in Gaza, with the measures widely seen as a way of pressuring Hamas to cede power in Gaza.

Despite traditionally bitter relations between President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Hamas, Egypt delivered over a million litres of fuel to Gaza last week.

The delivery was the first manifestation of the June talks in Cairo, and Dahlan is thought to have played a key role in the negotiations.

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