Report: Hamas wants cease-fire with Israel in the Gaza Strip
Hamas said to be discouraging Qassam attacks; Hamas denies plan to cede Gaza facilities for talks with Abbas.
Hamas is making efforts to reach a ceasefire with Israel in the Gaza Strip, London-based newspaper Al-Quds al-Arabi reported Saturday.
According to the report, senior Hamas officials are attempting to dissuade militants from firing Qassam rockets and mortar shells from the Strip into southern Israel in efforts to prevent a large-scale Israel Defense Forces ground operation in the Hamas-ruled territory.
Israel Radio reported Saturday that Damascus-based Hamas political leader Khaled Meshal had met with the head of the Islamic Jihad in Lebanon to discuss the issue. Islamic Jihad sources told the Al-Quds al-Arabi that the group had agreed to Hamas' proposal, but only if Israel agrees to a mutual ceasefire.
The newspaper also reported that Egyptian officials have offered to broker the deal between Israel and the Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip.
The militant Islamist faction Hamas violently seized control over the Gaza Strip from the rival Fatah faction in June. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas consequently dismissed the Hamas-led cabinet and appointed a Fatah-backed administration in the West Bank.
Last month, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that the IDF is "getting closer to a large-scale operation in Gaza, and we're likely to stay there for a long time."
Meanwhile, the Hamas movement on Saturday asserted it would not hand over Gaza Strip ministries and security compounds in exchange for dialogue with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri was commenting on reports by local independent news agency Ma'an which said that Hamas had agreed to give up the Gaza facilities, including crossing points, to the Palestinian presidency.
"All the information in Ma'an's report are untrue and aim at creating more troubles," Abu Zuhri said. He added that his faction was interested in dialogue, but accused Abbas and Fatah of "blocking the talks by outlining unacceptable preconditions."
According to the report, Hamas has agreed to abandon control over civil ministries in Gaza, such as the health, planning and education ministries, and has told Arab mediators that the security facilities "will be left for Hamas and Fatah delegations when future talks are held."
The report added that Hamas leaders would gather in Saudi Arabia to discuss the new developments. The Kingdom, Qatar, Sudan and Yemen have asked Hamas to accept Abbas' conditions to dialogue "to serve the national interest."
Abbas has stated in the past that he would be willing to talk with Hamas only if the militant group cedes control over Gaza. Ma'an reported that Abbas called on Hamas to "retreat from the coup and its consequences, abide by the Palestinian Liberation Organization's (PLO) commitments and accept early elections."