By Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa al-Omrani
".....According to Essam Al-Arian, prominent member of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood opposition movement, Hamas's steadfastness during Israel's recent three-week-long assault on the Gaza Strip served to bolster the group's negotiating position.
"Hamas's unexpected persistence served to increase its popularity and show regional and international players that they have no alternative but to deal with it," Al-Arian told IPS. "This is seen in the fact that the Cairo talks received official backing from both the U.S. and the EU."
He added that Hamas, despite its frequent designation as "extremist" in the news media, had shown considerable flexibility in its approach to reconciliation with Fatah.
"Hamas has shown it is more than willing to share with Fatah in a unity government," said Al-Arian. "Hamas has also voiced its readiness to accept a PA presence at the Rafah crossing," he added, referring to the sole transit point along Egypt's 14-kilometre border with the Gaza Strip.
Nevertheless, fundamental differences between the two factions remain - particularly in regards to their respective approaches to Israel......"