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Hamas-linked legal cases to enjoy due process: Egypt FM

HAMAS-LINKED LEGAL CASES TO ENJOY DUE PROCESS: EGYPT FM

Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry has said all pending cases in the Egyptian court system related to Gaza-based Palestinian movement Hamas would be subject to due legal process before Egypt's judiciary.

"All issues related to investigations, legal cases or accusations [against Hamas] will be dealt with within a judicial framework," Shoukry told Egypt's flagship state daily Al-Ahram on Friday.

"Whoever is proven to have been involved in acts that harmed the Egyptian people will be punished," he said.

Shoukry made the remarks in response to questions about Cairo's current stance on Hamas following Egypt's recent efforts to mediate between the Gaza-based resistance group and rival Palestinian faction Fatah.

Relations between Hamas and Cairo have been strained since 2013, when the Egyptian army overthrew Mohamed Morsi, Egypt's first freely elected president and a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood (of which Hamas is an ideological offshoot).

Since the 2013 military coup, Hamas has been accused of involvement in a handful of militant attacks in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula. The group has also been accused of involvement in the 2015 assassination in Cairo of Egyptian Attorney-General Hisham Barakat.

Hamas, for its part, has consistently denied the claims, saying its only enemy is Israel's decades-long occupation of Palestine.

According to Shoukry, Egypt remains committed to promoting Palestinian national unity, which, he said, "enhances the Palestinians' negotiating position [vis-à-vis Israel]".

In recent weeks, Egypt has stepped up its efforts to mediate between Hamas and Fatah, hosting a high-level Hamas delegation last month for talks with Egyptian officials.

Next Tuesday, Cairo is scheduled to host a fresh round of talks between the rival Palestinian factions.

If talks are successful, the Fatah-led Palestinian unity government will eventually assume political and administrative responsibility for the Gaza Strip, which Hamas has governed since 2007.

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