Hamas, PIJ say ceasefire contingent on Israel’s actions

Egyptian sources: "Significant progress made towards achieving long-term ceasefire."

Hamas Chief Ismail Haniyeh attends a meeting with members of international media at his office in Gaza City, June 20, 2019 (photo credit: MOHAMMED SALEM/ REUTERS)
Hamas Chief Ismail Haniyeh attends a meeting with members of international media at his office in Gaza City, June 20, 2019
Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad have assured Egyptian intelligence officials that they remain committed to the ceasefire understandings reached with Israel earlier this year under the auspices of Egypt, Qatar and the UN.
Egypt, for its part, has promised a series of measures to ease travel and trade restrictions imposed on the Gaza Strip, a Hamas official said on Sunday.
The pledge was made during talks in Cairo over the past week between Hamas and PIJ leaders and Egyptian intelligence officials, the official said.
Hamas and PIJ reportedly told the Egyptians their continued commitment to the ceasefire understandings is contingent on Israel’s actions on the ground, particularly halting the use of live ammunition against Palestinians demonstrating near the Gaza-Israel border, said a statement issued by the Hamas leadership.
Egyptian sources said the Cairo discussions achieved “significant progress” toward reaching a long-term ceasefire. The sources said Egypt was expected to invite leaders of several Palestinian factions to Cairo soon to gain their approval of the proposed ceasefire with Israel.
The Hamas delegation was headed by Ismail Haniyeh, who arrived in Turkey on Sunday morning. The PIJ delegation in Cairo was headed by the group’s secretary general, Ziyad al-Nakhalah.
Abbas Kamel, head of Egypt’s General Intelligence Service, promised that his country would continue its efforts to “alleviate the suffering of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip,” the Hamas official said. “Kamel also urged Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad leaders to abide by the ceasefire understandings with Israel.”
The Hamas delegation thanked Egypt for the measures it has already taken to help the Palestinians in the coastal enclave, including the reopening of the Rafah border crossing, the statement said.
Referring to Egyptian efforts to secure a long-term ceasefire with Israel, the statement added that the Hamas delegation stressed the need for Israel “to fulfill its commitments to end the suffering of the Palestinians, lift the blockade, and carry out humanitarian projects in the Gaza Strip.”
Hamas also noted that the Gaza-based Palestinian factions “displayed high responsibility” during the weekly protests near the border with Israel, a reference to calls for preserving the “peaceful” character of the demonstrations held in the context of the “March of Return,” which began in March 2018.
 According to the statement, the discussions in Cairo also dealt with the latest developments concerning the Palestinian cause in light of Israeli and US policies and decisions regarding Jerusalem, settlements and Palestinian refugees and prisoners.
The Hamas and PIJ officials discussed with the Egyptians ways of achieving “national unity” and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s plan to hold long overdue presidential and parliamentary elections. PIJ has announced it won’t participate in the election, while Hamas has welcomed Abbas’s initiative and said it is waiting for him to issue a presidential decree setting a date for the vote.
The PLO’s Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), meanwhile, criticized the way the ceasefire negotiations were being handled by Hamas and PIJ.
Qais Abu Layla, deputy secretary-general of the DFLP, said the negotiations should be subject to national consensus and conducted only by the PLO. “There should be a dialogue among all the Palestinian factions to complete the truce, and not by one or two groups,” he said.
Hamas and PIJ also seized the opportunity in Cairo to discuss ways of strengthening cooperation between the two parties, Hamas said.
Relations between Hamas and PIJ were said to be strained during the last round of fighting with Israel, which erupted after the assassination of PIJ military commander Bahaa Abu al-Ata. Hamas’s decision not to join the fighting drew criticism from some PIJ officials and many Palestinians.
During the meetings between Hamas and PIJ leaders in the Egyptian capital, the two sides discussed ways of “consolidating the solid foundations that govern their relationship and their three-dimensional pillars: ideology, Palestine and resistance,” Hamas said. “The two groups expressed their eagerness to maintain the highest level of coordination and understanding to safeguard the rights of our people, confront the schemes of the occupier, protect national interests, and manage the resistance to curb the enemy’s aggression.”
Upon his arrival in Turkey, Haniyeh met with his deputy, Saleh Arouri, and several senior Hamas officials. A founding member of Hamas’s Izzadin al-Qassam Brigade, Arouri serves as deputy head of the movement’s “political bureau.” Last year the US State Department offered a reward of up to $5 million for information that would lead to the identification or location of Arouri.
Haniyeh is also expected to visit Malaysia, Russia, Qatar, Lebanon, Mauritania and Kuwait, according to the Turkish Anadolu Agency.