Israel offered to ease Gaza blockade for long-term calm, Hamas says
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Israel offered to ease Gaza blockade for long-term calm, Hamas says

Moussa Abu Marzouk says Jerusalem initiated ceasefire proposal, which was rejected for fear it would sever Strip from West Bank

Elhanan Miller is the former Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel

Palestinians await permission to enter Egypt as they gather at the Rafah border crossing in the southern Gaza Strip, March 9, 2015 (photo credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)
Palestinians await permission to enter Egypt as they gather at the Rafah border crossing in the southern Gaza Strip, March 9, 2015 (photo credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

A proposal to end the military blockade on Gaza in return for a long-term ceasefire with Hamas was initiated by Israel and rejected by the Islamic movement over concerns that it would effectively detach the Gaza Strip from the West Bank, a senior Hamas official claimed.

Responding to a report published by The Times of Israel on March 9, Hamas’s deputy political chief Moussa Abu Marzouk wrote Wednesday on his Facebook page that it was Israel — not Hamas — which proposed the establishment of air and sea ports in Gaza in return for calm. The Israeli offer was never put on paper, however, he said.

“There were in fact those who conveyed ideas regarding an airport and sea port, thereby separating the Gaza Strip from Israel primarily, and hence from the West Bank, since the occupation prevents geographic contiguity [between Gaza and the West Bank],” Abu Marzouk wrote. “Gaza would be open to the outside world without the limitations of the Rafah Crossing [with Egypt] or Israel’s policies.”

The message to Hamas was conveyed by Israeli army officers through independent politicians and Gaza businessmen, Abu Marzouk noted, adding that he had discussed the matter with ministers of the Palestinian unity government several times before deciding to reject it.

Hamas official Moussa Abu Marzouk, September 18, 2014. (AP/Khalil Hamra)
Hamas official Moussa Abu Marzouk, September 18, 2014. (AP/Khalil Hamra)

“The basic purpose of this plan is not to serve Gaza, but rather to separate it from the West Bank; which will subsequently be swallowed up [by Israel],” he wrote. “We in Gaza pay the price for rejecting these ideas through an intensification of the siege, economic pressures and limitations on our freedom of movement. But we did not accept this plan.”

The IDF declined to comment.

According to documents obtained by The Times of Israel, Hamas had agreed through international intermediaries to halt all of its military activities for at least five years in return for Israel lifting its military blockade and export ban, and allowing the construction of sea and air ports.

Abu Marzouk said that the ideas mentioned in the leaked document were being endorsed by PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah as part of their “bad policies regarding Gaza and its population.”

“We have never given our agreement to any of the people bearing these ideas, nor have we put them on our agenda to study, because there can be no debate on our national responsibility or the unity and future of our cause,” he continued. We have stated dozens of times that there will be no Palestinian state in Gaza [alone] and no Palestinian state without Gaza.”

Abbas and the PA, Haya charged, are ‘waiting to see whether the Islamists are erased in the Arab world, and with them Hamas’

 

Hamas official Khalil Haya said on Thursday that the Palestinian Authority has demanded control of 50 percent of the funds pledged for the reconstruction of Gaza.

Speaking at a political gathering in the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis, Haya said that UNRWA, the UN body responsible for Palestinian refugees and their descendants, would receive 20% of the funds, leaving just 30% to “the residents.”

Abbas and the PA, Haya charged, are “waiting to see whether the Islamists are erased in the Arab world, and with them Hamas.”

Donor states have pledged $5.4 billion for reconstruction projects in Gaza at a conference held last October, but have failed to make good on their promises. On Tuesday, however, Qatar began constructing 1,000 homes for local residents displaced during Operation Protective Edge.

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