Ceasefire talks involving Hamas, Israel, and PA delegations in Cairo are stuck on two of the terror organization’s demands that Israel refuses to accept, an Egyptian newspaper reported on Thursday.
According to Al Youm A Sabe, Hamas demanded that all Palestinians rearrested in recent weeks who had been freed in the 2011 Gilad Shalit prisoner swap be released. It also called for free entry for Gazans to pray at the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.
It is those two demands that the Israeli delegation in Egypt — comprising Shin Bet chief Yoram Cohen, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s associate Yitzhak Molcho, and security official Amos Gilad — is said to have rejected.
The Egyptian daily reported that in addition to those demands, Hamas requested that all crossings into the Gaza Strip, including the Rafah crossing into Egypt, be opened. For the Rafah border, Hamas asked that it be opened in 24 hours, and seeks international commitments that it won’t be closed again. The organization also stipulated the opening of naval access to Gaza.
The two teams are said to be working in separate rooms in the same Cairo hotel, with an Egyptian representative conveying both sides’ objections and concerns.
In the past few days, conflicting reports on Hamas’s terms for a ceasefire have emerged. Sources in Egypt and in the Hamas movement said the reports are inaccurate and should be taken with a grain of salt.
According to Channel 2, in addition to the demands listed in the Egyptian daily, Hamas was calling for an airport to be established in the Strip, that fishing areas be expanded, and that Israeli aircraft alter their flight routes to skirt the coastal enclave. It also reported that the group was appealing for a 10-year truce.
In its efforts to broker a ceasefire, the Palestinian Authority is set to propose to Egypt that it open the Rafah border crossing under the supervision of PA security forces, and deploy PA forces along the Philadelphi Corridor between Gaza and Egypt.
Israel does not oppose the idea of PA forces at Rafah, Israeli sources said.
Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas was set to meet in Cairo on Thursday with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to present a ceasefire proposal that includes the Rafah provision, Palestinian sources told The Times of Israel on Wednesday. Abbas was also to meet Thursday in Egypt with the deputy head of the Hamas political bureau, Moussa Abu Marzook, and discuss ceasefire terms with him. He may also meet later with Hamas’s political bureau chief Khaled Mashaal in Turkey.