European groups recently passed on to Hamas a wide-reaching proposition to solve the humanitarian crises in Gaza, The Jerusalem Post's sister publication Maariv reported on Monday.
If accepted, Hamas would relinquish armed struggle against Israel for at least five years. In exchange, an EU-created institution would pay the salaries of the Gaza strip civic administration and run all humanitarian affairs there.
While the concept of connecting wide-scale humanitarian and financial aid to Gaza with Hamas rejecting terrorism and violence is not new, this offer is unique in including an assumption of comprehensive authorities by a European body that would operate in the Gaza strip.
For Hamas, it may be tempting that the financial aid for health, education and developing public administration would come directly from a European body and not via the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank
, currently controlled by Mahmoud Abbas, as is currently the practice.
Another important aspect of the European proposal is that it marks a different direction from that of the Palestinian effort of national reconciliation. The report says that the offer is meant to provide a possible scenario should Abbas make good on his threat to withdraw all support to the Gaza strip under Hamas. The Hamas negotiation team is reportedly still studying the European offer before responding to it.
It is also possible that the European offer is useful for Hamas as it provides them with one more bargaining chip as negotiations with Abbas, conducted with the help of Egypt, continue with the eventual goal of national Palestinian reconciliation.
In a round of talks held in the Gaza strip on Saturday, Hamas refused the demands made by Abbas and passed on by the Egyptian negotiation team. The demands were that the security, legal and tax collecting powers in the Gaza strip be handed over to the PA as a condition for national reconciliation.
Hamas also insisted that their delegation set to meet in Cairo next week to continue the negotiations will be composed of Hamas Political Bureau members residing in Lebanon and Qatar and not those based in the Gaza strip. It would seem this is Hamas making a statement that matters on the ground, such as the weekly protests along the Israel-Gaza border, are too pressing to send Gaza-based staff abroad for negotiations. Hamas has refused to comply with Egyptian requests to halt these protest marches.