'Hamas Should Focus on Independence, Not Ports'

Official close to Abbas criticizes Hamas' 'strange' demands, says airport and sea port can be built by independent Palestine; AFP reports PA may take control of Rafah Crossing.

Jack Khoury
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A man rests as a boy looks on at the seaport in Gaza. Credit: Abduallah Q. Shurrab
Jack Khoury

Conflicting reports came in from Cairo of a Palestinian draft agreement to be presented to Israel late Saturday. A Palestinian official told AFP that as part of the agreement, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority would take control of the Rafah Crossing. Hamas' demand of opening a sea port in Gaza would be postponed and deferred to the PA, which would in turn negotiate the matter with Israel.

Meanwhile, a senior Palestinian official with ties to President Mahmoud Abbas criticized Hamas on Saturday for setting conditions for a cease-fire - such as a sea port or an airport – instead of insisting on a formula that would lead to a Palestinian state.

"The demands are strange," he said. "The main issue for us is ending the occupation and establishing an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza along the 1967 borders, which would enable us to build an airport and a sea port and anything a state that aspires for life and development is supposed to do."

According to the official, the immediate goal is to reach a lull in fighting, then to launch a political process with the participation of the international community.

The Palestinian delegation in Cairo said they had no intention of leaving Egypt's capital until a cease-fire agreement is reached, adding that their demand are legitimate. Palestinian officials said they believe the next few hours of negotiations will be crucial.

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