CAIRO, Egypt — A Palestinian delegation including Hamas presented its joint demands on Sunday to Egyptian mediators in Cairo for a truce with Israel, including an end to the Gaza blockade, officials said.
The delegation, which included members of president Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority and Gaza’s Hamas rulers, met the Egyptian mediators late in the day even as Israel began pulling some of it forces out of Gaza.
Cairo is to relay the demands to Israel, which balked at sending negotiators after accusing Hamas of breaching a 72-hour truce soon after it began on Friday.
The Palestinians, who met earlier on Sunday to hammer out a joint position, agreed on “a ceasefire; Israeli troop withdrawal from Gaza; the end of the siege of Gaza and opening its border crossings,” said Maher al-Taher, a member of the delegation.
The Palestinian demands also include fishing rights up to 12 nautical miles off Gaza’s coast and the release of Palestinian prisoners demanded by Hamas and Abbas, said Taher, a senior official with the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
A Hamas official confirmed the agreement, saying: “These are the main points, but they must be discussed with the Egyptians. We hope things go smoothly.”
A Hamas official also said the group would meet Monday with Egypt’s intelligence chief, and expected Cairo to pressure Israel to accept the demands, Israel Radio reported.
Earlier, Hamas deputy political chief Moussa Abu Marzouk, based in Cairo, told Palestinian news outlet Al-Quds the group had managed to push Egypt toward accepting its position, and away from Israel’s earlier-accepted deal for an unconditional ceasefire.
Cairo, a traditional broker in Palestinian-Israeli conflicts, has moved to isolate Hamas on its eastern border after the Egyptian military overthrew the Islamist government last year.
Egypt had proposed an unconditional ceasefire followed by talks between Israel and Hamas early into the 27-day conflict, which an emergency services spokesman in Gaza claims has cost the lives of more than 1,800 Palestinians, hundreds of whom Israel says were armed combatants.
Abu Marzouk said that “we are interested in reaching a ceasefire, lifting the siege, and for our people to live like other nations on earth; enjoying freedom of travel, import and export. There should be no buffer zones or [areas] we cannot come near.”
Hamas was unable to accept the Egyptian conditions when they were first presented in mid-July, Abu Marzouk explained, but now Palestinians had come to Cairo with a unified list of demands.
“Had we accepted the Egyptian initiative at the time, many things would be imposed on us which we cannot accept today,” he said.
Since the fighting began, 66 Israelis have been killed, 64 of them soldiers, and over 2,500 rockets have been fired at Israeli towns and cities. Eleven of the soldiers were killed by Palestinian terrorists who used tunnels dug under the border to infiltrate Israel and ambush IDF patrols. Destroying the tunnel network and bringing an end to the rocket fire are the goals of Israel’s Operation Protective Edge that began on July 8.
Hamas had rejected the initial Egyptian initiative, saying it was not consulted and that the plan did not guarantee an end to Israel’s eight-year blockade of Gaza. The Egyptian and Israeli blockade aims to prevent Hamas bringing weapons into the Strip.
Analysts say the Islamist militants will be hard-pressed to emerge from the devastating conflict with a political victory that Israel is determined to deny them.
Times of Israel Staff contributed to this report.