Egyptian mediators will be conferring with a Hamas delegation from both
Gaza and Damascus in a bid to broker a long-term truce with Israel,
after sounding out the views and positions of Israel from its envoy,
Amos Gilad, Thursday.
and tedious behind-the-scenes negotiations are getting under way in the
coming hours between Egyptian mediators and Hamas representatives, in a
bid to strengthen the ceasefire in Gaza and broker a long-term truce
Egyptian Intelligence Chief General Omar Suleiman,
who brokered the last six-month truce between Israel and Hamas in
February, met with Israeli Defense Ministry envoy Amos Gilad to hear
Israel's position, Thursday.
An Egyptian staged-peace plan for
Gaza is at the center of negotiations, building on an initial
ceasefire, then moving on to the re-opening of border crossings into
Gaza, followed by reconciliation between rival Palestinian factions
Hamas and Fatah.
Egyptian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Husam Zaki
describes what Egypt is trying to achieve, now that the first phase of
its peace initiative, an unconditional ceasefire in Gaza is apparently
"The implementation of the second phase of the Egyptian
initiative about arrangements for the coming period, how we're going to
tackle that, and what the Israeli representative has offered and agreed
on and we'll take it from there," he said.
Hamas' representative to Jordan, Mohammed Nazzal, explained point-by-point what the discussions will entail.
on the table, he says, is an open, unlimited truce being offered by
Israel and we've expressed our views on it to Egypt. He said, the
second point, to be discussed is the reopening of border crossings, in
particular Rafah, and the conditions for reopening it. He said the
third point, which [Israeli envoy Amos] Gilad insisted on during his
last visit to Cairo, concerns the case of [captive] Israeli soldier
Gilad Shalit. And he said the fourth point involves arms
smuggling which Hamas thinks does not concern it, because the
smuggling is taking place from Egypt into Gaza, and not from Gaza into
The Israeli daily Ha'aretz reports that Hamas is
insisting that Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit's release be linked to a
widescale prisoner exchange with Israel, but not linked to the
reopening of border crossings. Shalit was taken captive by Hamas in
June of 2006.
One crucial aspect of the Egyptian peace plan, a
reconciliation between Hamas and the rival Fatah group of Palestinian
Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, does not apparently sit well with
Al Jazeera TV says that Egypt has invited representatives
from Fatah and other Palestinian groups, for weekend talks, aimed at
inter-Palestinian reconciliation. Egypt is also reportedly linking the
reopening of the Rafah border crossing with formation of a new
Palestinian unity government, including all Palestinian factions.
Nazzal argues that it's "Egypt's right to invite the other Palestinian
groups to Cairo for talks but that [Egypt's] claim that Fatah
represents all Palestinians is not correct [since] Hamas is in control
Yemeni President Ali Abdallah Salah, who is also
trying to reconcile the rival Palestinian factions, Hamas and Fatah,
warned Hamas that Arab countries might "reconsider their pledges to
help rebuild Gaza," if the two factions did not reconcile.
Arabia, Kuwait and other Arab countries promised to contribute over $2
billion to help rebuild the Gaza Strip at last week's summit in Kuwait.