Netanyahu's office: Israel is not holding direct or indirect talks with Hamas

Sources in the Gaza Strip on Sunday revealed that a senior Hamas delegation was preparing to head to Egypt for talks.

Hopes for a lasting truce between Hamas and Israel?
A flurry of reports that Israel and Hamas were on the verge of signing a long-term deal has led to official denials from Jerusalem and to deep concern among Fatah officials in the West Bank.
PA officials warned that any such agreement would pave the way for the establishment of a separate Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip.
The warning came amid reports that Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal and former British prime minister Tony Blair have reached under - standings regarding a pro - posed truce. Unconfirmed reports claimed that Hamas was ready to strike a deal with Israel in return for the creation of a sea passage between Cyprus and the Gaza Strip.
Yasin Aktay, an adviser to Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, was quot - ed in a Gaza-based newspaper as saying that a long-term Hamas-Israel deal was in the offing, as was reconciliation between Israel and Turkey over the MV Mavi Marmara incident.
Mashaal held talks in Turkey last week.
The Prime Minister’s Office reversed a previous policy of not responding to the stories, instead issuing a denial of the reports.
“Israel formally clarifies that there are no meetings with Hamas,” the Prime Minister’s Office said on Monday evening. “Neither directly, through third countries, nor through mediators.”
The statement said that regarding relations with Turkey, a reconciliation agreement was still a long way off.
Fatah spokesman Ahmed Assaf said that reports about an imminent agreement between Hamas and Israel, if true, would mean consolidating the split between the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
“This would achieve Israel’s strategic goal of killing the idea of establishing an independent Palestinian state on the 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as its capital,” Assaf cautioned, claiming that “Hamas wants to win Israeli recognition at the cost of the Palestinian national project.”
Assaf said that Hamas was not entitled to negotiate on behalf of the Palestinians. Therefore, he added, the results of any negotiations would not be binding to anyone, “especially since Hamas is turning a blind eye to the Palestinians’ national rights and principles.”
Assaf said that the Oslo Accords and subsequent agreements with Israel allow Palestinians to have their own seaport in the Gaza Strip. He claimed that both Yasser Arafat and his successor, Mahmoud Abbas, had rejected the Israeli plan to establish a sea passage to the Gaza Strip that would be under Israeli security, political and economic control.
“Hamas has chosen its narrow interests and winning Israeli recognition at the expense of the higher interests of the Palestinians,” the Fatah spokesman charged. “Hamas’s goal is to rid itself of its crisis with - out caring about the Israeli scheme to liquidate the Palestinian cause and indefinitely delay the discussion over core issues such as Jerusalem, refugees and settlements.”
Assaf urged Palestinians to foil the “Hamas-Blair conspiracy to slice off the Gaza Strip and eliminate Palestinian rights.”
Another Fatah spokesman, Osama Qawasmeh, claimed that the purported under - standings between Hamas and Blair were designed to lay the foundations for the creation of new “Village Leagues” with religious clothing.
Qawasmeh was referring to the pro-Israel Village Leagues that were established in the West Bank in 1980 in a bid to undermine the PLO’s influence.
He said that Hamas is now ready to accept a truce with Israel in return for an Israeli-controlled sea passage to the Gaza Strip. He claimed that Israel was seeking to cut the Gaza Strip off from the West Bank and bury the Palestinian issue.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh denied that his movement was seeking to create a Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip. He told reporters in Gaza City that Hamas’s strategy calls for the “liberation of all of Palestine from occupation.”
He added: “Despite the pain, destruction and blockade, the Gaza Strip cannot give up Jerusalem and al-Aksa Mosque.”