Israel risks nullifying the cease-fire in the Gaza Strip if the Netanyahu government doesn't send an official representative to the Cairo negotiations that are set to re-start sometime this month, a Palestinian official is quoted as saying on Tuesday.
The official was responding to a Channel 10 report on Monday which cited closed-door discussions between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and top political aides. According to the report, those close to the premier came away with the impression that he has no intention of resuming indirect cease-fire talks with Hamas.
According to Channel 10, Netanyahu has stated that there are no preparations being made for the Cairo talks.
One of the Palestinian negotiators due in Cairo, Qais Abd al-Karim, told the Ma'an
news agency on Tuesday that Jerusalem's shunning of the talks would "render the cease-fire null and void."
Al-Karim told Ma'an
that Palestinian officials are awaiting an invitation from the Egyptian government to re-launch the talks.
As for Netanyahu, Channel 10 reported that contrary to the premier's statements last week in which he said "Hamas didn't receive anything they demanded," Israel has in fact agreed to an opening of the Gaza crossings as well as an expansion of the fishing zone off the coast of the Hamas-ruled territory.
All other demands from both Israel and Hamas have been put off for now. In the week since the cease-fire went into effect, there has been no violence.
In closed conversations, Netanyahu told associates that Israel's demand for a demilitarization of the Gaza Strip "doesn't appear to be attainable in either the short term or the long term," according to Channel 10. In light of these circumstances, it is difficult to envision any serious discussions regarding Hamas's demands for a seaport and airport in the Gaza Strip, aides said.
This past weekend, Netanyahu told Israeli television
that the Gaza operation may have provided an opening for the re-starting of peace negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. In private conversations, however, the premier sounded a much different note.
According to Channel 10, Netanyahu repeated to his associates his longstanding view that "any Israeli withdrawal would be followed by hostile elements taking over the conceded territory."
"If Israel withdraws from Judea and Samaria, there will be tunnels underneath Kfar Saba and the cities of the Sharon plain," Netanyahu reportedly told associates.
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