Palestinian groups mull Egyptian ‘truce’ proposal; Israel opposes temporary cease-fire accord
The Egyptian delegation led by the deputy Intelligence chief, general Mustafa al Behairi, ended Monday its meeting with the Palestinian factions without reaching an agreement on a truce with Israel. Earlier, the Palestinian Authority expressed optimism over Hamas’ imminent acceptance of the cease-fire plan while Israel reiterated its rejection of the truce beforehand.
For its part, Islamic Jihad denied that such talks were ever discussed in the meeting between its leaders and the Egyptian delegation.
Palestinian sources said the meeting between the Egyptian delegation and representatives of the Palestinian groups in Gaza ended Sunday without reaching an agreement on what has been dubbed as an ‘Egyptian bid’ to convince the factions to stop the military operations against Israel temporarily.
However, the sources reiterated that the results of the meeting were positive, particularly on the issue of resuming the internal Palestinian dialogue. This has come ahead of the anticipated meeting between the Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) and representatives of the various factions Monday evening to discuss the Egyptian proposals.
Talks between Abbas and Hamas set for late Monday were delayed, and Abbas, who travelled from his office in Ramallah to Gaza, met with Fatah officials only. Sources close to the Palestinian prime minister said, however, that the meeting with Hamas would likely go ahead Tuesday.
On Monday, the Egyptian delegation met with representatives from Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah. The Egyptian mediators are expected to return to the Gaza Strip in 48 hours.
In a telephone conversation with Al Bawaba, Islamic Jihad leader in the Gaza Strip, Abdullah al Shami said, “the topic of truce was not discussed.” He added “the discussion focused on the regional circumstances and the need for dialogue among Palestinians and the enhancement of their position to counter the American backed crimes of Zionism against the Palestinians.”
“The Egyptian delegation sought to bring his movement and the Palestinian government closer,” said Shami, adding “part of the dialogue was focused on this, and another other part was about the best way to get out of the current crisis which we are living in.”
For his turn, Hamas’ official, Dr. Abdel Aziz al Rantisi said his movement would consult with its leadership in the West Bank, Israeli prisons and in the Diaspora before giving the final response on the Egyptian proposals. He added, “the Egyptian proposals were not only about the truce, as they included a full plan that needs deep revision before we submit a response.”
In the same context, Palestinian foreign minister Nabil Sha’ath expressed his hope that Hamas would accept a full cease-fire by Tuesday. Following his talks with the EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg, he said, “we, with the help of our Egyptian brothers, are conducting serious negotiations with Hamas. We certainly do not want to talk about anything now that might have a negative impact on the efforts being made.”
The Israeli foreign minister, Silvan Shalom warned that Israel would reject a temporary truce accord even if Hamas agreed, saying that the latter would exploit a cease-fire in order to gear up for fresh attacks.
Hamas spokesman in Gaza Mahmoud al Zahhar told Al Bawaba “we promised to send the Egyptian delegation our response within the next few days.” He asserted that the delegation did not propose a ‘truce’ contrary to what has been reported.
“The discussions with the Egyptian delegation focused on two points. The first was about enhancing national Palestinian unity and the second about how to best deal with the conflict with Israel. In other words, we discussed what we should stress at this point in time and what we should defer in order to better serve the Palestinian cause,” said Zahhar.
He pointed out that the discussions were not about a ‘truce’ but rather about mechanisms for managing the conflict. Zahhar affirmed that “there were no talks about a truce…nobody raised this.”