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February 10, 2023 9:00 am

‘It’s Not a Popular Uprising’: Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad Leaders Join Talks in Cairo


avatar by Andrew Bernard

Hamas Chairman Ismail Haniyeh (Photo: Hamas)

The leaders of the Gaza-based terrorist group Hamas arrived in Cairo Wednesday for talks with the Egyptian government concerning “the Palestinian cause,” according to a statement from the group. The visit follows a similar delegation earlier in the week by the leaders of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and comes amid an alarming spike in violence in Palestinian violence emanating from the West Bank.

“Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and others have invested enormous amounts of effort to destabilize the West Bank,” Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) research analyst Joe Truzman told The Algemeiner. “It’s still a positive sign that there are efforts to reduce tensions in the West Bank.”

Asked about the meetings by The Algemeiner at a press briefing, State Department Spokesman Ned Price said he did not have any comment.

The talks between Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh and Egypt’s General Intelligence Directorate, which handles relations with the group, follow an Israeli security force raid near the West Bank city of Jericho in which five members of a local Hamas cell were killed.

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“The purpose of the operation was to stop a Hamas terrorist cell that carried out the shooting attack on a restaurant in Jericho on January 28, 2023,” an Israeli military statement said. “During the attack, two terrorists armed with weapons and vests arrived at the entrance of the restaurant where about 30 diners were at the time, in order to carry out a mass murder spree. Due to a stoppage of weapons, the attackers fled towards Jericho, thus preventing an attack that would have resulted in many casualties.”

The raid in Jericho, which is generally regarded as having far less militant activity than restive West Bank cities like Jenin, has raised questions about the extent of Hamas’ and PIJ’s influence outside Gaza and the declining control of the Palestinian Authority over the security situation in territory they are ostensibly responsible for.

“Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad have a broader strategy here. They want control of the West Bank,” Truzman said. “This is a power struggle. They see a weakening Palestinian Authority and they are taking advantage of it.”

Speaking at Georgetown University on Thursday, CIA Director William Burns said following his visit to Israel and the PA that conditions in the West Bank resemble the tensions that preceded the Second Intifida, in which thousands of Israelis and Palestinians were killed.

For now, Truzman thinks that talk of a third Intifada is premature.

“It’s not a popular uprising among civilians,” he said. “My concern more than anything is that one major attack that can be linked to the West Bank by these militant organizations – let’s say there’s attack in Israel and it’s linked to a militant organization in the West Bank – it could spark a broad IDF operation in the West Bank, that’s what I’m really concerned about.”

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