Having agreed to a five-day extension of the ceasefire with Israel, Palestinian negotiators in Cairo have called an Israeli proposal for a permanent agreement “terrible,” outlining the Israeli demands on Thursday.
Speaking to Lebanese news station Al-Mayadeen, unnamed Palestinian sources involved in the negotiations said that Israel conditioned the expansion of activity in its border crossings with the Gaza Strip on a detailed agreement with the Palestinian Authority, not Hamas, and has refused to provide a timetable for their opening. The Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt is not mentioned in the Israeli paper.
The Israeli cabinet was set to meet at 5 p.m. Thursday to discuss the negotiations in Cairo over a permanent ceasefire. Israel’s five-member negotiating team has been sparing in revealing details of its positions, a fact decried by a number of government ministers.
In its paper, the Palestinian sources said, Israel did not mention the payment of Hamas employee salaries — held up by Arab Bank, ostensibly due to Israeli and American pressure — nor did it agree to abolish the 300 meter (984 foot) no-go zone adjacent to the perimeter fence, which the IDF prohibits Palestinians from entering. Israel, the sources said, has only agreed to “a gradual removal of the ban as part of a comprehensive ceasefire agreement.”
Israel also rejected the Palestinian demand to expand the permitted fishing zone to 12 miles (though the sources did not mention whether Israel agreed to expand the zone beyond the current 3 miles). The establishment of a seaport and an airport, as well as the release of Palestinian prisoners, were issues deemed by Israel “secondary” and postponed to a later stage, the sources said.
The Palestinian negotiators left Cairo on Thursday for consultations with their leaderships: the PLO in Ramallah, Islamic Jihad in Beirut, and Hamas in Qatar, Israeli daily Haaretz reported. The teams are set to reconvene in Cairo early next week.
Moussa Abu Marzouk, deputy head of Hamas’s political wing and one of the negotiators, told Al-Mayadeen that “no breakthrough was reached on any of the issues discussed with Israel,” adding that “more rounds of talks are needed.”