Haniyeh confirms Egyptian mediation

Haniyeh demands end to IDF ops in Gaza, removal of economic sanctions, and opening of the border.

haniyeh finger 224 88 (photo credit: AP [file])
haniyeh finger 224 88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh confirmed Wednesday that Egypt was trying to reach a cease-fire agreement between his movement and Israel. In his first public appearance since the massive recent IDF operation in the northern Gaza Strip, Haniyeh said during a graduation ceremony at the Islamic University that any cease-fire should be "comprehensive, mutual and simultaneous." He added that Hamas was also insisting that any truce include the West Bank and not only the Gaza Strip. Haniyeh said a cease-fire with Israel should also be part of a package that includes lifting the blockade on the Gaza Strip and reopening all border crossings there. He revealed that Hamas had been holding talks with other Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip to discuss the possibility of declaring a cease-fire with Israel. Haniyeh scoffed at Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's remarks that Hamas was seeking a cease-fire to save its leaders' lives following threats by Israel to kill them. "These claims are an insult to the victory that was achieved by the Palestinian resistance groups," he said. "The latest Israeli military escalation came after the international and Israeli siege imposed on the Gaza Strip and our government failed. The enemy has failed militarily in the Gaza Strip and politically in the West Bank." He repeated charges that Abbas and the PA leadership in Ramallah were "partners" in the alleged Israeli-American plot to overthrow the Hamas government. He also accused the PA of "collusion" with Israel in hunting down and killing Palestinian gunmen in the West Bank. Ismail Radwan, a senior Hamas official in the Gaza Strip, said Wednesday that his movement was not opposed to the return of Abbas's security forces to the Rafah border crossing. He said Hamas's only condition was that those who would run the border crossing would be acceptable to Hamas and would not be corrupt. Radwan said Hamas had presented the Egyptian government with a plan to reopen the Rafah border crossing. He said the plan called for joint Egyptian-Palestinian management of the terminal, without the presence of international monitors or Israelis. He said that in any case, Hamas would play a central role in running all the border crossings into the Gaza Strip.