Hamas: Quartet Links Gaza Aid to Acceptance of Two-state Solution

Hamas official says Tony Blair set five conditions for continued transfer of funds to rebuild Strip.

Associated Press

A top Hamas member said on Wednesday that the Mideast Quartet has set five conditions for further funding to rebuild Gaza, one of which requires the group to accept the two-state solution.

The Quartet, which seeks to mediate the Israel-Palestinian dispute, consists of the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the United States. The two-state solution would establish a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders.

Senior Hamas official Moussa Abu Marzouk said Middle East Quartet envoy Tony Blair set four additional conditions: that Hamas recognize the two-state solution as permanent, complete its reconciliation with Fatah in the West Bank, affirm that it is unconnected to any Islamic group that has a regional agenda or interests, and reassure Egypt that it doesn't support terror and that the Strip is not a base for terrorism.

Blair’s office said in response that no conditions had been set, and that the envoy expects confidence-building measures from all the partners to improve the situation in Gaza. 

Abu Marzouk, via his Facbook page, said Israel, not the Palestinian side, opposes the 1967-border solution.

He said Hamas doesn't recognize Israel but would accept a temporary solution based on two states in the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state.

Hamas and Fatah, run by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, have already reconciled, Abu Marzouk said. He said the world can't set conditions for Hamas while Israel refuses to accept the decisions of the international community and the UN Security Council that grant rights to the Palestinians.

"Hamas as an Islamic organization is not subject to the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood, which in each country and region has its own characteristics," he said.

Abu Marzouk spoke in the wake of Blair's visit to the Gaza Strip early this week. Several months after the summer war between Israel and Hamas, Blair wanted to assess the lack of progress in rebuilding the Strip.

After a visit to Gaza earlier this week, Blair noted that change in Gaza was needed “to open it up and reconnect it with the world. For that to happen, we need reconciliation in Palestinian politics. And for reconciliation to happen, we need unity to be on a basis which supports peace."

In an article Blair wrote and posted on his website, he also listed several elements that needed to govern the approach to Gaza: salaries had to be paid, crossings had to be opened to allow in building materials and Egypt needed to continue in its role of mediator and lead the negotiations about the long term future of Gaza, including issues like the airport and seaport.

Blair also wrote of the need to get clarity from Hamas as to whether it is a Palestinian national movement or part of the broader Islamic movement; whether it is willing to accept a state within the 1967 borders as a final settlement to the conflict; and whether it is willing to assure Egypt that Gaza will not become a base for terror activity in Sinai. Blair also spoke of the need to prepare for Palestinian elections.

Blair admitted in the piece that the situation in Gaza is difficult, but there was still hope for change for the better.

On the Israeli side, the coordinator of government activities in the territories, Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, said he'd decided on further measures to help rehabilitate Gaza.

His office said that 45 tractors will be provided to farmers; the quota of permits for traders will be increased to 5,000 from 3,000; and the number of traders authorized to leave Gaza daily to do business in the West Bank and Israel will be doubled to 800.

Marketing of Gaza's agricultural and industrial products, like textiles and furniture, will be broadened as well, the coordinator's statement said.

The statement said that under the terms of the rehabilitation, more than 62,000 tons of building materials had so far reached the Strip through the Kerem Shalom crossing and that 43,000 residents had purchased materials to enable them to renovate their homes.

In addition, in October the Knesset approved 50 trucks and 15 buses for the Gaza Strip.

Despite these measures, observers in Gaza say that unless the crossings are fully opened and unless the Palestinians have full control of the government, a full and complete rebuilding of Gaza is impossible.