Hamas close to agreeing five-year ceasefire with Israel: sources
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas accuses Hamas of seeking “unilateral”
agreement with Tel Aviv, bypassing Palestinian Authority
Kifah Ziboun Asharq Al-Awsat Tuesday, 16 Jun, 2015
Ramallah, Asharq Al-Awsat—Hamas and Israel are close to agreeing on a
five-year truce plan, after two weeks of continued discussions between both
sides, informed sources have told Asharq Al-Awsat.
The plan, proposed by Qatar and supported by Turkey as well as a number of
EU countries and the UN, would see Hamas and Israel declare a five-year
ceasefire in exchange for Israel easing its blockade of Gaza, speeding up
the process of rebuilding the Strip, and constructing a floating seaport on
the Gaza coast. The plan could also be extended beyond the five years.
The sources said Musa Abu-Marzuq, the senior Hamas member in charge of the
file, had recently discussed the plan with UN representative Nikolai
Miladinov, and that it had been well-received by most of the Hamas
According to a number of Palestinian, Israeli, and Egyptian sources, Marzuq
and other senior members of the group on Saturday headed to Doha, where they
will discuss the proposal with Hamas leader Khaled Mishal, who currently
resides in the Qatari capital.
Israel has already agreed to help construct the floating seaport, on
condition it is overseen by an international organization, the sources
NATO, of which Turkey is a member, has reportedly been put forward to
monitor the movement of ships and goods into and out of the port.
The sources said Hamas put forward the plan to Israel after it was proposed
by Qatar, with Israel making it clear it would only agree if it gained
unanimous approval by all Palestinian factions.
Meanwhile, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has criticized the current
ceasefire proposal, saying that only the Palestinian Authority (PA)—the
interim Palestinian government which Abbas heads as president—should
negotiate directly with Israel.
He has accused Hamas of conducting “secret and unilateral” negotiations with
Tel Aviv without consulting other Palestinian groups, in a bid to boost its
own international legitimacy and bypass the PA.
Palestinian government sources speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat said the PA was
fully aware of the negotiations and has been privy to the details of the
discussions. However, it rejects a unilateral deal not including the PA in
the negotiation process and warns the truce could lead to Hamas-controlled
Gaza splitting from the West Bank and other areas of the occupied
Rafah crossing opened
This comes as Egypt on Saturday agreed to open the Rafah border crossing
linking Gaza and Sinai for the first time in three months, amid an apparent
sign in improving relations between Cairo and Hamas.
The opening of the crossing came following an agreement between Egypt and
Hamas that will see both sides cooperating to oversee the crossing and on
issues related to Egypt’s security. Cairo has long maintained the border
between Egypt and Palestine has allowed fighters and weapons to reach
extremist groups in the Sinai.
Part of the agreement between Egypt and Hamas stipulated the border crossing
would be opened for three days but Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi
has ordered this to be extended until the end of the week.
The agreement also follows a decision by a Cairo court this month to
overturn an earlier decision designating Hamas a terrorist organization.
Egypt regards Hamas’s parent group the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist
organization and relations between Hamas and Cairo reached a nadir after the
army ousted Muslim Brotherhood president Mohamed Mursi in July 2013
following mass protests against his one-year rule.
Egypt brokered the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas on August 26, 2014.
That agreement ended Israel’s military campaign against Gaza which began
more than a month earlier on July 8.
The campaign resulted in the deaths of around 2,200 Palestinians, including
500 children, with 11,000 injured. More than 18,000 homes were destroyed
during the bombardment.