As Israeli and Palestinian delegations were set to restart indirect talks in Cairo on Sunday, Communications Minister Gilad Erdan said no deal with Hamas on the conflict in Gaza would be better than a deal that compromised Israeli security.
Erdan, a member of the eight-person security cabinet, told Israel Radio that Israel still has not reached a decision on an Egyptian proposal to end the conflict, adding that the initiative held several problematic clauses for the government in Jerusalem.
If the Egyptian formula limits Israel from a security perspective, then it would be better for the Jewish state to reject the proposal and maintain the IDF's operations in the Gaza vicinity as Hamas has demanded the opening of border crossings with Gaza as a truce condition, the minister told the radio station.
Erdan added that Israeli military presence around Gaza would help prevent the possibility of dual-use materials from entering the Gaza Strip as Hamas has threatened to continue to restock its rockets arsenal.
According to a Sunday report in pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat, the Egyptian plan for a long-term cease-fire between Israel and Palestinian factions in Gaza has gained the support of a strong international contingent, including UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
The United States has also become involved in the talks, agreeing to serve as a guarantor that Israel will uphold what has been agreed to thus far in Egypt, the report added.
The paper quoted the head of the Palestinian delegation to negotiations in Cairo, Fatah's Azzam al-Ahmed, as saying that an international conference for the reconstruction of Gaza following Operation Protective Edge will be held in September, with the participation of international agencies and donors.
Hamas has said the Egyptian proposal on the table is unacceptable and threatened to renew fighting, while Israel has maintained that quiet and security will be restored “one way or another.”
Osama Hamdan, a senior Hamas representative in Lebanon, said none of the proposals presented to the Palestinians meet their demands, adding that Israel “must accept the conditions of the Palestinian people or face a long war of attrition.”
In Jerusalem, meanwhile, government officials took the Hamas statements in stride, with one official saying Israel did not get excited when Hamas spokesmen were saying on Friday that a deal was just around the corner, and was not getting excited now.
The five-day cease-fire will expire at midnight between Monday and Tuesday.
“We will not agree to any arrangement that does not take into account Israel’s security interests,” one government official said. “They remain our primary focus. The goals of Operation Protective Edge remain the same: long-term quiet and security. And this will be achieved either diplomatically, militarily or through a combination of both.”
The official defined Israel’s security interests as a cessation of all rocket fire, preventing rearmament in Gaza, and no new tunnels.
The Israeli delegation to Cairo is made up entirely of security officials, and the diplomatic officials said the directive Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu gave them was not to compromise on the country’s security interests.