Report: Israel and Qatar Agree on a Sea Passage Between Cyprus and Gaza

According to the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar, Israel requests physical presence there, while Hamas agrees to international supervision and similar surveillance used at Rafah crossing ■ On Friday, the Qatari ambassador's vehicle was attacked at an encampment east of Gaza

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Palestinians protesters at the sea border crossing, two months ago.
Palestinians protesters at the sea border crossing, two months ago. Credit: MOHAMMED SALEM/REUTERS
Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury

As part of talks aimed at advancing a Hamas-Israel deal, Qatar and Israel have agreed to establish a sea passage between Cyprus and the Gaza Strip, the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar reported on Saturday.

The route would be monitored by international forces and under Israeli security supervision.

According to the report, Israel requests physical presence there, while Hamas also agrees to similar surveillance used at the Rafah crossing since 2005, including cameras, computer networking and the presence of international inspectors.

However, a final summary of how the terms might be implemented is not yet available.

In the wake of recent developments, including Qatar's payment of Hamas civil servants' salaries for six months, other Palestinian factions have began to voice their concerns about their involvement and the deal led by Qatar.

>> PA furious but markets resuscitated: Hamas starts paying Gaza clerks' salaries

Qatar will finish paying the July salaries of Hamas officials on Saturday, the report said. Thousands of officials who have not received their salaries claim that they are part of Hamas' military wing. According to the deal, Qatari money will be transferred to civilian officials only.

On Friday, the vehicle of the Qatari ambassador was attacked at an encampment east of Gaza. Youths attacked the vehicle with stones while Hamas' police force tried to move them away. The incident shows that despite the easing of restrictions on Gaza, there are those who fear the political price in return for the concessions.

Also on Friday, Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar said that Hamas has not formed any deal with Israel.  Anyone who says that "there is a deal or understandings with the occupation does not tell the truth," Sinwar told a crowd at the weekly Gaza border protest.

Sinwar's statement contradicts recent reports on progress in Egyptian-mediated talks between Israel and the Palestinians, although last month he told Italian newspaper La Repubblica that he saw a "historic opportunity for change."

Meanwhile, Sinwar and Ismail Haniyeh, head of the Hamas political wing and former prime minister of Gaza, apologized to the Qataris for Friday's incident, and Sinwar stressed that "understandings" are being formulated with Qatar, Egypt and the United Nations, not Israel.

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