Egypt considers changes to Gaza blockade in meeting with Hamas
Egypt said Tuesday it was reconsidering its policies towards the blockade on the Gaza Strip in order to "alleviate the suffering" of local Palestinians, dpa reported according to an official.
"Egypt is conducting a review of the Rafah crossing to take all necessary action to achieve greater convenience and alleviate the suffering of Gaza residents," said Minha Bakhoum, spokeswoman for the Egyptian Foreign Ministry.
The statement came after a senior Hamas official said Egypt had changed its policy towards Israel.
The comments by Hamas Foreign Minister Mahmoud el-Zahar followed a meeting with Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil el-Arabi.
El-Zahar said el-Arabi had told him there would be a shift in policy towards Egypt's Rafah border crossing with Gaza, which remains largely closed-off to both goods and people since Hamas took power in the enclave some seven years ago.
The Hamas official also praised Egypt's condemnation of the recent Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip, which have killed at least 12 Palestinians, including children.
"There is no ceasefire agreement, but there is a commitment from the Hamas side that if Israel stops its aggression, agreements can be made," added el-Zahar.
El-Arabi had earlier said "Israel must not be given a pretext to pursue violence" and rejected "the targeting of civilians."
For his part, the Hamas official said that Egypt's criticism of Israel's recent attacks on Gaza was an indication of "the new positive spirit and obvious change in policy" following the ouster of former president Hosny Mubarak.
The mood change in Cairo comes after Mubarak, whose government mediated years of peace talks between Palestinians and Israelis, took a tough stance towards Hamas, which is an offshoot of Egypt's once banned opposition group the Muslim Brotherhood.
El-Zahar's visit to Egypt marks the first official meeting between a Hamas official and members of Egypt's new government.
The two officials also discussed steps that would lead to Palestinian reconciliation between rivals Hamas and Fatah after Cairo's attempts to bring the two together under a unity government failed last year. dpa str sg ayb nrc Author: Aya Batrawy