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The Rafah border crossing was exceptionally opened on Friday to allow for the passage of Gaza Strip Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and his delegation back home following their visit to Egypt this week.
Haniyah arrived in Cairo on 17 September with a delegation of 21 Hamas officials and ministers to meet with their Egyptian counterparts regarding living conditions in the Gaza Strip, and possibilities for reconciliation between Palestinian political factions. Seven of the officials returned to Gaza on Thursday, including Gaza Strip Interior Minister Fathi Hammad.
Saleh Raafat, head of the executive office of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, criticized Egyptian Prime Minister Hesham Qandil’s meetings with Hamas figures. He suggested that the talks between Qandil and Haniyeh regarding security and economic issues send the wrong message to Hamas, and could encourage a permanent rift between the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The Palestinian Authority is dominated by the Fatah party, which controls the West Bank, while Hamas governs the Gaza Strip.
Raafat called on the Egyptian government to stop cut ties with Haniyeh, stating that Mahmoud Abbas is the only legitimate president of Palestine.
The Palestinian Authority issued a statement last week criticizing other countries receiving Haniyeh, claiming these meetings damage efforts at Palsetinian reconciliation.
Hamas spokesperson Taher al-Nunu responded by claiming that Raafat's statements were the real cause of dissent amongst the Palestinian people.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm