Hamas faces backlash over ‘ceasefire deal’ with Israel

Hamas spokesman Abdel Latif Qanou on Sunday denied the report, saying the talk was only about “confirming previous understandings related to ending the blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip.”

HAMAS MEMBERS in Gaza. (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Palestinian Authority and several Palestinian factions have criticized Hamas for its reported readiness to reach a long-term ceasefire with Israel, warning that such a move would “solidify” the split between the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The criticism came in response to a report that the Israeli Cabinet was scheduled to debate on Sunday and review the details of a proposed long-term ceasefire with Hamas. Channel 12 News reported on Saturday that National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat will brief the minsters on the details of the proposed deal.
Hamas spokesman Abdel Latif Qanou denied the report, saying the talk was only about “confirming previous understandings related to ending the blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip.”
Senior Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya denied that his movement was conducting negotiations with Israel. Hamas was only discussing with Egypt ways of preserving the understandings to end the blockade on the Gaza Strip, he said.
Ibrahim Milhem, spokesman for the PA government, said that any deal between Hamas and Israel would serve Israeli interests and lead to the establishment of a “new separate Palestinian entity” in the Gaza Strip.
PLO Executive Committee member Azzam al-Ahmed said that “the cooperation between Israel and Hamas, together with some countries, “aims to solidify divisions among the Palestinians and geographically and legally separate the Gaza Strip from Palestine.” The continued split between the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Ahmed warned, was designed to prevent the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the pre-1967 lines.
Ahmed, in an interview with the PA’s Voice of Palestine radio station, claimed that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was seeking “to consolidate the de facto Hamas rule over the Gaza Strip, while taking additional dangerous measures to grab more land in the West Bank.”
Ibrahim Khraisheh, the PA’s Permanent Observer Representative to the United Nations, said that Defense Minister Naftali Bennet was moving toward easing restrictions on the Gaza Strip “while stepping up the [Israeli] siege of the West Bank.”
Mahmoud al-Zaq, a senior official with the Gaza-based Palestinian Popular Struggle Front, a party that does not belong to the PLO, said that his group “rejects Hamas’s effort to establish a weak political entity in the Gaza Strip by signing a ceasefire agreement with Israel.” He claimed that by striking a deal with Israel, Hamas was seeking to ensure its continued rule of the Gaza Strip.
Abdullah Kmeil, member of the Fatah “Revolutionary Council,” called on Hamas to stay away from any ideas that would deepen divisions among the Palestinians. “Everyone knows that the US and Israel are working with Hamas to establish a small Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip,” Kmeil said. “Our people will thwart these conspiracies by sticking to their national rights.”
The Palestinian People’s Party (formerly the Palestinian Communist Party) also reacted to the reports concerning a possible ceasefire agreement between Hamas and Israel by warning against “dubious deals” between the two parties.
Walid Awad, a representative of the party, argued that the purported deal between Hamas and Israel was consistent with US President Donald Trump’s yet-to-be-announced plan for Mideast peace, also known as the “Deal of the Century.” That deal, he claimed, envisages the detachment of the Gaza Strip from the West Bank.
PLO Executive Committee member Wasel Abu Yousef condemned the talk about a deal between Israel and Hamas as a “malicious plan aimed at undermining the Palestinian national enterprise.” He too claimed that any deal between the two sides would be “consistent with the American-Israeli scheme to liquidate the Palestinian cause.”
Abu Yousef also accused Hamas of seeking to appease Israel by halting the weekly protests near the Gaza-Israel border and allowing the construction of a US-funded field hospital in the Gaza Strip.
Last week the High Commission for the March of Return and Breaking the Siege [on the Gaza Strip] announced that the weekly protests, which began in March 2018, would be suspended for three months from the beginning of January 2020.
Hamas has been criticized by the PA and other Palestinian faction for allowing a US Evangelical Christian aid group to build a field hospital in the northern Gaza Strip. The new hospital is reportedly being established in the context of ceasefire understandings reached between Israel and Hamas under the auspices of Egypt, Qatar and the UN.