Hamas: No Gaza Cease-fire Yet, Israel Must Accept Demands

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Senior Hamas leader Moussa Abu Marzouk.Credit: AP

There is no cease-fire yet as far as Palestinian organizations in the Gaza Strip are concerned, a Hamas spokesman announced at a press conference late Thursday afternoon.

Moreover, no Hamas delegation has gone to Cairo to discuss a cease-fire, though one senior Hamas official, Moussa Abu Marzouk, is already there because he lives there, Sami Abu Zuhri said.

In short, he said, it’s not yet possible to speak of any progress that might produce a cease-fire in the near future.

Abu Zuhri said any cease-fire agreement must include Israeli acceptance of the terms laid down by the Palestinian militant organizations. The “resistance forces” have plenty of patience, he said, and are prepared to continue the fighting until their demands are met.

The group is reported to have five main demands: An opening of all crossings between Israel and the Gaza Strip; opening of the Rafah crossing with Egypt for 24 hours, with an international guarantee it will not be closed; naval access in Gaza; permission for Gaza residents to pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem; the release of the prisoners freed in the Gilad Shalit swap and then rearrested; improved conditions for Palestinians imprisoned in Israel.

The Palestinian news agency Maan quoted a senior Fatah official as saying that Palestinian representatives are in nonstop talks with Egyptian mediators in an effort to reach a cease-fire. The official, Azzam al-Ahmad, is in Cairo along with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Ahmad said Abbas still sees the Egyptian cease-fire proposal unveiled earlier this week as the basis for any deal, even though Hamas has so far rejected it. Abbas, he added, is working to reach an agreement on this proposal with Abu Marzouk and the deputy secretary general of Islamic Jihad, Ziyad al-Nakhalah. The latter is also in Cairo.

Fatah and Hamas have long been rivals, with the former controlling the West Bank and the latter controlling Gaza. But they formed a unity government last month.

On Friday, Abbas will fly to Turkey to meet with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Abbas’ spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, said the meeting will focus on implementing the Egyptian cease-fire proposal.

A Palestinian source said it seems likely the Egyptians will try to forge a package deal that includes arrangements for opening the Gaza-Egypt border crossing at Rafah. As part of any such deal, however, Cairo plans to insist that PA officials be stationed at the crossing, which has been controlled by Hamas since the latter seized control of Gaza in 2007.

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