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Hamas chief meets the Sheikh of al-Azhar in Cairo

Hamas delegation meets Shaykh al-Tayeb [Twitter]

Date of publication: 8 February, 2019

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Hamas chief, Ismail Haniyeh, headed a delegation which met with Sunni Islam's foremost cleric al-Azhar's Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb on Thursday evening.
Ismail Haniyeh has met with the Sheikh of al-Azhar in a development that points to improving relations between the Hamas movement and Egypt.

Haniyeh, Palestinian militant group Hamas's most senior political leader, headed the delegation which met with al-Azhar leader Ahmed al-Tayeb in Cairo on Thursday evening. 

Hamas gave the sheikh an update into the Palestinian issue, focusing specifically on the occupation of Jerusalem, Israeli encroachment into Islam's third holiest site Al-Aqsa Mosque and Israel's demographic alteration of the Holy City.

The Sheikh of al-Azhar stressed his sympathy for the Palestinian people, particularly for those suffering from the Israeli blockade in Gaza, reports said.

Sheikh Tayeb also promised to help bring together opposing Palestinian sides and to play a role in mediation and reconciliation between Palestinian parties.

Haniyeh met with Egyptian Intelligence Minister Major General Abbas Kamel on Tuesday to discuss a number of key issues, according to press reports.

Hamas has ruled the Gaza Strip since 2007.

Egypt and Israel continue to maintain a crippling blockade on the coastal Palestinian enclave since then, aiming to coerce Hamas into abandoning its armed resistance platform.

After a period of hostility between Egypt and Hamas following the current president's coup against elected Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in 2013, relations improved between the two sides with Cairo seeking to restore its influence in Palestine by mediating between Hamas and rival Palestinian group Fatah, which rules the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, the West Bank.

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