A deal being formulated between Hamas and Israel would see the end of protests along the Gaza-Israel fence and of incendiary kites and balloons in exchange for the opening of two crossing points, Lebanese newspaper Al Akhbar reported Friday.
A second stage would involve Israel increasing the supply of electricity to the Gaza Strip and allowing a broader range of goods to enter the enclave via Israel, according to the report. The final stage of would include improving the infrastructure in the Gaza Strip in order to improve the standard of living.
If the deal goes through, Gaza Strip residents will also be able to use the Egyptian port of Ismailia and an airport in the Sinai Peninsula, alongside the construction of a power plant in the Sinai to be used to improve the supply of electricity to the Palestinians, according to the report.
Hamas also expects to receive aid from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), even after the United States cut back on its contributions to the organization.
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Hamas still has reservations about the agreement, but after the talks held in Cairo over the past two weeks under Egyptian and United Nations mediation, the organization will now decide on a number of these issues at a special, expanded session of the Hamas political bureau.
Both Hamas and Egypt declined to comment on the report, but the talks between Israel and Hamas are expected to focus not only on the deal between Hamas and Israel but also an internal Palestinian reconciliation agreement between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah.
The question of a possible prisoner swap between Hamas and Israel will be discussed only in the later stages of the negotiations because it depends mostly on Israel agreeing to free all the Hamas prisoners who were released as part of the deal to free abducted IDF soldier Gilad Shalit in 2011 and were later rearrested by Israel for subsequently participating in and supporting terrorism.
Another protest march is planned for Friday in Gaza, this one will in honor of Mohammed Tarek Dar Yusuf. Yusuf, a 17-year-old resident of Khobar, a West Bank town near Ramallah, who murdered Yotam Ovadia and stabbed three others in an attack in the West Bank settlement of Geva Binyamin, also known as Adam, last week.
The organizers of the march called for mass participation, in order to “send a message to the Palestinians not to surrender to the terrorist dictates of Israel until the blockade is lifted.”
The Palestinian Authority is carefully following the developments in the contacts between Israel and Hamas, and is worried that future moves will isolate the leadership of the PA diplomatically. The new projects and rehabilitation of the Gaza Strip must take place within the framework of a peace agreement that the PA is a party to, said senior PA officials.
Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah told journalists on Thursday in Ramallah that his government is ready to return to Gaza immediately if Hamas hands over the responsibility for policing and internal security, along with the legal and tax collection systems. The PA is also demanding control of the border crossings and the authority over public spaces in Gaza. Hamdallah said the PA government is not asking to take responsibility for the weaponry of the Hamas military wing, or that of other Palestinian factions.
On Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cited "the situation in the south" as his reason for canceling a trip to Colombia, with his security cabinet expected to convene Sunday to discuss efforts to reach a deal with Hamas.
Meanwhile, the deputy head of the Hamas political bureau in the West Bank, Salah al-Arouri, and other high-level Hamas officials made their way to Gaza as efforts continued towards reaching agreements with the Palestinian Authority and Israel.