Israel ready to go to Cairo, looking to stop rearmament

As the 72-hour truce appears to hold, Israeli officials are set to head to Cairo for negotiations seeking to consolidate the ceasefire and permanently cease the hostilities between Israel and Hamas. “Israel will bring to these discussions our top priority, which is preventing Hamas from rearming,” a senior Israeli official tells The Times of Israel.

“Their military machine has been largely dismantled, their network of tunnels destroyed and their arsenal of rockets greatly depleted.” But Israel’s challenge now is to figure out how to demilitarize the Gaza Strip and prevent Hamas from rearming, the senior official says. “We believe that both regional and international cooperation can be effective in preventing Hamas from rearming.”

At this point Jerusalem’s exact demands are unclear, but it appears that the Israeli delegation in Cairo will highlight the “rehabilitation in exchange for demilitarization” formula. “Obviously, regional actors have a major role,” the senior official said, hinting that either Egypt or the Palestinian Authority, or both, should be put in charge of Gaza border crossings to make sure that no arms are smuggled into the strip.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is ready to ease its blockade on Gaza in return for sustained quiet, the senior official says. “These restrictions are a function of the hostility and the violence. If the hostility and the violence were to cease it would give Israel room to move on the restrictions that are primarily there for security reasons.”

According to the Egyptian ceasefire proposal, “Crossings shall be opened and the passage of persons and goods through border crossings shall be facilitated once the security situation becomes stable on the ground.”

— Raphael Ahren

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