A Palestinian woman stands outside a closed school run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), during a strike by the agency's employees union to protest against job cuts, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip October 2, 2018.
(photo credit: IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA / REUTERS)
Hamas leaders said on Saturday that they briefed Egyptian intelligence officials about Israel’s slow-paced implementation of the ceasefire understandings reached earlier this year under the auspices of Egypt and the United Nations.
The announcement came amid reports that Israel has offered additional measures to ease restrictions on the Gaza Strip.
The Egyptian officials arrived in the Gaza Strip on Friday in the context of Cairo’s ongoing effort to prevent the collapse of the ceasefire understandings. The Egyptian delegation consists of senior General Intelligence Service officials Ayman Badi’ and Ahmed Abdel Khaleq.
The Egyptian officials held talks in the Gaza Strip with Hamas leaders Ismail Haniyeh, Yaha Sinwar, Khalil al-Haya and Rouhi Mushataha.
Last week, the Egyptian team met in Ramallah with senior Fatah officials and discussed with them ways of ending the dispute between the Palestinian ruling faction and Hamas.
Hamas said in a statement that its leaders presented the Egyptian officials with a “detailed briefing about the Israeli enemy’s violations against the Gaza Strip and its foot-dragging regarding the implementation of the [ceasefire] understandings.”
The statement said that the Hamas leaders stressed during the talks with the Egyptians that Israel understands that the Gaza-based groups won’t accept anything less than lifting the “blockade” on the Hamas-ruled coastal enclave.
The Hamas leaders, the statement said, also affirmed the importance of developing ties between Hamas and Egypt in order to “ease the suffering of the residents of the Gaza Strip.”
On the issue of “reconciliation” between Hamas and Fatah, the rulers of the Gaza Strip presented the Egyptians with a “positive stance” and said they were ready to pursue efforts to achieve Palestinian national unity,” the Hamas statement added. It said Palestinian unity was needed at this stage to face the challenges and dangers targeting the Palestinian cause, first and foremost the “Deal of the Century.”
The “Deal of the Century” refers to US President Donald Trump’s plan for peace in the Middle East. In June, the Trump administration unveiled the economic portion of the plan, which has been rejected by Fatah and Hamas as a “conspiracy to liquidate the Palestinian cause and national rights.”
Hani al-Thawabta, a senior official with the PLO’s Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), said on Saturday that the Egyptian intelligence officials told the Hamas leaders that Israel was offering a series of measures to ease restrictions on the Gaza Strip.
The measures, he told the Palestinian daily Al-Quds, include the delivery of medicine and medical aid to the Gaza Strip, as well as returning more fishermen boats seized by the IDF in recent years.
In addition, Thawabta said, Israel was offering to increase the number of permits for merchants and laborers to enter Israel from 3,500 to 5,000.
He said that the Hamas leaders were told that a Qatari delegation will arrive in the Gaza Strip on July 18 to discuss ways of solving the electricity crisis and the establishment of a hospital and industrial zone.
The Egyptian intelligence officials also carried a message from the Fatah demanding that all ministries in the Gaza Strip be handed over to the Palestinian Authority government headed by Mohammed Shtayyeh, the PFLP official revealed.
Once Hamas accepts this demand, PA President Mahmoud Abbas will convene a meeting of leaders of all Palestinian factions to discuss the formation of a Palestinian unity government and holding long-overdue presidential and parliamentary elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, he added.
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