Palestinian Hamas Chief Ismail Haniyeh gives a speech after prayers on the first day of Eid al-Adha festival, in Gaza City August 21, 2018.
(photo credit: IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA / REUTERS)
The blockade on the Gaza Strip will end soon without requiring any political concessions from Hamas, according to Ismail Haniyeh, a senior leader of the Islamist movement.
Speaking on Tuesday in a sermon marking the Muslim feast of Eid al-Adha in Gaza City, Haniyeh said that the blockade was “tottering” and its end was “around the corner.”
Hamas and several Gazabased factions were summoned to Cairo last week in an effort to achieve a longterm truce with Israel. The talks are expected to resume there next week.
Leaders of Hamas and other Palestinian factions said in the past few days that some progress has been made during the Cairo talks. However, they did not provide further details.
Haniyeh said that the blockade on the Gaza Strip was nearing its end, “thanks to the March of Return and sacrifices of the Palestinian people” along its border with Israel.
The “March of Return” is the term used by Hamas and other Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip to describe the weekly protests that have been taking place along the border since March.
The Hamas leader said that his movement was not being required to pay a “political price” for the lifting of the blockade on the Gaza Strip.
The blockade, he added, will be removed in accordance with understandings reached between various Palestinian factions and an “Arab security network” that will guarantee the implementation of any truce agreement with Israel.
Haniyeh said that were it not for the weekly protests along the border with Israel and the steadfastness and sacrifices of the Palestinians, the issue of the blockade would not have been placed on the negotiating table.
He said that Egypt, the United Nations and several other Arab countries, which he did not name, were involved in the indirect negotiations between Hamas and Israel to reach a cease-fire agreement.
Haniyeh said that the efforts to reach a truce agreement with Israel were completely unrelated to US President Donald Trump’s yet-to-be-announced plan for peace
in the Middle East. Hamas, he stressed, will not abandon its weapons or ideology as a result of any truce agreement.
Haniyeh claimed that Trump’s unseen plan has failed. “We declare this plan clinically dead and, by God’s will, we will bury it,” he said.
The Hamas leader renewed his call to the Palestinian Authority to halt security coordination with Israel in the West Bank. That coordination, he said, was the only “active” thing that remains of the Oslo Accords.
He also reaffirmed Hamas’s commitment to previous reconciliation agreements signed with PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s ruling Fatah faction, and said his movement was prepared to form a Palestinian unity government and hold long overdue presidential and parliamentary elections.
Meanwhile, the PA continued on Tuesday to attack Hamas over the indirect truce talks with Israel.
PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah told reporters in Ramallah that the Palestinians won’t allow Trump’s upcoming peace plan to pass. Resisting Trump’s plan means that the Palestinians will not allow anyone to separate the Gaza Strip from the West Bank, he said.
“The ideal solution to ending the occupation and lifting the blockade on the Gaza Strip is to achieve national unity,” Hamdallah added. He also repeated his appeal to Hamas to allow the Ramallah-based PA government to assume its full responsibilities in the Gaza Strip.
“When we talk about empowering the Palestinian government, this means that there shouldn’t be two separate judicial systems in the West Bank and Gaza Strip,” Hamdallah said. “We are talking about security and the land, and about the return of the [PA] civil servants to their jobs – and real control over the border crossings [in the Gaza Strip]. This is the response to the attempts by the US administration and Israel to separate the Gaza Strip from the West Bank.”
Addressing Hamas, the PA prime minister said: “A waterway between the Gaza Strip and Cyprus or El-Arish [in Egypt] is not the solution.
The solution is immediate national unity in order to end the occupation and establish a Palestinian state.
We have confidence in our Egyptian brothers that they will thwart these schemes which are aimed at separating the Gaza Strip from the West Bank. We already have a seaport and an airport in the Gaza Strip. The discussions now over a waterway dwarf and even destroy the Palestinian national project.”
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