An Egyptian appeals court on Saturday cancelled a ruling to list the Palestinian group Hamas as a terrorist organisation, judicial sources said, signalling a possible easing of pressure on the Gaza Strip's ruling faction.
The Urgent Matters Appeals Court cited a lack of jurisdiction as the reason for annulling the earlier court's ruling.
Sami Abu Zuhri, Hamas spokesman in Gaza, welcomed the court's ruling as "correcting a previous mistake," saying it would have "positive consequences on the relationship between Hamas and Egypt."
Hamas is an offshoot of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood which the authorities have declared a terrorist group and have repressed since the army ousted one of its leaders, Mohamed Morsi, from the presidency in 2013.
The lawyer who first raised the case told Reuters he would request that Egypt's Foreign Ministry place Hamas on its list of terrorist organizations, based on previous judicial decisions.
"This ruling does not return us to zero. I have two rulings placing the Brotherhood and the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades on the list of terrorist organizations," Ashraf Farahat said.
Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, was classified as a terrorist organisation by Egypt in January. In 2014, a similar ruling in the same court banned all Hamas activities in Egypt and ordered the closure of any Hamas offices, though the order apparently was never carried out. It wasn't immediately clear how - or if - Saturday's ruling would affect those previous decisions.
Hamas has rejected the courts' decisions, while the Brotherhood maintains it is committed to peaceful activism and rejects links to violence.
Cairo has for many years played a central role in engineering ceasefires between neighbouring Israel and Hamas, which dominates the Gaza Strip, including a truce reached between the sides in August that ended a 50-day Gaza war.
Egyptian officials say weapons are smuggled from Gaza into Egypt where they end up with militant groups fighting to topple Cairo's Western-backed government.
Islamist militants based in Egypt's Sinai region, bordering Gaza and Israel, have killed hundreds of police and soldiers since Morsi's political demise following protests against his rule. The insurgency has spread to other parts of Egypt, the most populous Arab country.
Egypt's new government recently has begun clearing a buffer zone along its border with Gaza Strip in an attempt to destroy a cross-border network of tunnels that Hamas considers a lifeline.