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September 19, 2004
Egypt Legitimizes Hamas

Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal paid a surprise visit to Egypt and was received by the Egyptian chief of intelligence today, the AP reports:

Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, who's kept a low profile since last month's twin suicide bombing in southern Israel, made a surprise visit to Egypt on Sunday, holding talks with Egypt's intelligence chief about an anticipated Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

Mashaal has remained largely out of sight since Israel threatened to target Palestinian militant leaders after the Aug. 31 suicide bombings in Beersheba, Israel, that killed 16 Israelis. Hamas claimed responsibility on Sept. 2, the last day Mashaal appeared in public.

Egypt has been trying without success for more than a year to arrange a dialogue among Palestinian factions to explore calling a ceasefire in attacks against Israel alongside the planned Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. But Mohammed Nazal, a Syria-based Hamas official accompanying Mashaal, denied the Hamas visit would include discussions about a cease-fire.

Egypt has diplomatic relations and a peace accord with Israel, and supports the establishment of the Palestinian Authority as the legitimate government of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Egypt also has pledged support for the war on terror. So why is Egypt allowing public meetings between its officials and the leaders of a group that conducts terrorist bombings and has pledged to push out Yasser Arafat in the Gaza Strip?

It is precisely this kind of legitimization -- just three weeks after two Hamas operations that killed 16 Israeli civilians -- that keeps the terrorist movements going. This calls Egyptian efforts and alliances into complete question and points to a continuing source of anti-Western hatred in the region. While Egypt claims to be assisting us against Islamofascist terrorism, it continues to support the same groups, publicly and openly; what kind of intelligence can we expect to get from the Egyptians now?

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at September 19, 2004 10:49 AM

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