Saleh al Arouri's arrival in Gaza has been interpreted in Israeli and Palestinian media as "relevant to negotiations through third parties for a long-term agreement between Hamas and Israel."

Saleh al Arouri, deputy leader of Palestinian resistance movement Hamas, after signing a reconciliation deal with senior Fatah official Azzam al Ahmad, during a short ceremony at the Egyptian intelligence complex in Cairo, Egypt on October 12, 2017.
Saleh al Arouri, deputy leader of Palestinian resistance movement Hamas, after signing a reconciliation deal with senior Fatah official Azzam al Ahmad, during a short ceremony at the Egyptian intelligence complex in Cairo, Egypt on October 12, 2017. (AP Archive)

Saleh al Arouri, deputy leader of the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas, returned to Gaza on Thursday after eight years of exile.

According to a press release from the administration of the Rafah border crossing, an Arouri-led delegation including leading group members Mousa Abu Marzouk, Izzat al Rishq and Hussam Badran crossed the border into the Gaza Strip.

The delegation was welcomed by Hamas leader Ismail Haniya and members of the group’s political bureau.

Arouri has been in exile since 2010. He was living in Beirut after he was expelled from Turkey and Qatar.

His return to Gaza has been interpreted in Israeli and Palestinian media as "relevant to negotiations through third parties for a long-term agreement between Hamas and Israel."

Israel's Haaretz newspaper wrote that the Tel Aviv administration was "hopeful" about the talks.

The Yediot Ahronot newspaper noted that Israel had given assurances through Egypt that Tel Aviv, which has allowed Arouri’s entry into Gaza, would not target or attack him.

Local media also reported that the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, had played an important role in the alleged Egypt-backed Hamas-Israeli talks.

Hamas delegation visits Egypt

On Monday, a Hamas delegation led by Arouri arrived in Cairo to discuss the latest developments in the Palestinian political arena with Egyptian officials.

In a statement, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said it included Marzouk, Rishq and Badran as well as Khalil al Hayya and Rawhi Mushtaha.

Earlier on Monday, Hayya and Mushtaha set out from the blockaded Gaza for the Egyptian capital via the Rafah border crossing.

According to sources close to Hamas, the delegation has been in intensive negotiations with Egyptian intelligence in order to establish Palestinian national unity and a long-term ceasefire agreement between Israel and the resistance organisations in Gaza.

Meanwhile, the cancellation of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's planned visit to Colombia is believed to be related to the "developments in Gaza,” according to Israeli media, which referred to speculation that he needs to be available due to the possibility that there might be a breakthrough in talks between the Tel Aviv administration and Palestinian sides.

The Haaretz newspaper reported that Israel’s security cabinet is expected to meet on Sunday to discuss a possible deal with Hamas.

Source: AA