Egypt reached a short-term agreement between Israel and Hamas to ease violence along their common border, the London-based Arabic-language newspaper Al-Hayat reported Friday.
A delegation from the Egyptian intelligence service that has been shuttling between Gaza and Ramallah and which has also been meeting with Israeli officials achieved an understanding regarding a halt to the violence by Palestinian demonstrators in Gaza along the border fence with Israel, in exchange for an easing of the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip, according to the report.
However, the agreement does not include a halt to the processions along the border but does call for an end to any violent acts by the protesters, including the sailing of incendiary balloons and kites over the border into Israel and the use of explosives.
The protests along the border, which have frequently involved tens of thousands of demonstrators, began in March.
The Egyptian delegation has informed representatives of Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by Hamas, and in Ramallah, the seat of the Fatah party-dominated Palestinian Authority, that diplomatic efforts over the past two weeks have headed off an impending head-on confrontation and war with Israel, which had been imminent, Al-Hayat reported.
The expectation at this point is that, in exchange for Israel's easing of the siege, all of the Palestinian factions will respect the agreement and prevent a deterioration of the situation.
According to Palestinian sources, the understandings do not constitute agreement on a long-term arrangement between Israel and Hamas, but halt the use of explosive devices directed at Israel and efforts by protesters to break through the border fence.
In return, Israel would commit to expand the fishing zone off the Gaza coast and to the supply to diesel fuel to the power plant in the coastal enclave, where residents have limited electricity supplies for much of the day.
The agreement reportedly also calls for Israel's continued agreement to allow supplies used for United Nations-sponsored humanitarian projects in the strip to continue to be allowed into the enclave.
The Gaza Strip has been subject to restrictions not only by Israeli authorities on the movement of people and goods coming in and out of the enclave, but also by Egypt. Hamas wrested control of Gaza by force from the Palestinian Authority in 2007 following parliamentary elections that Hamas won.
As reported by Haaretz last week, Palestinian sources have said the current diplomatic efforts have been aimed at agreement on an interim plan that would lower the level of violence on the Gaza side of the border in return for specific concessions on Israel's part on issues such as allowing fuel in or that would advance humanitarian projects.
Against the backdrop of the split between the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza, the Palestinian Authority continues to object to any arrangement between Hamas and Israel on longer-term calm along the Gaza border that would include an opening of border crossings and bypass the Palestinian Authority.
The PA has made it clear to the Egyptians that efforts had to be made towards a Palestinian reconciliation agreement that would include a return of the Palestinian Authority to Gaza.
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