PA, at US request, pushes Hamas in vain to end rocket fire

Palestinian sources say American diplomats trying behind the scenes to halt conflict, without success

Avi Issacharoff

Avi Issacharoff, The Times of Israel's Middle East analyst, fills the same role for Walla, the leading portal in Israel. He is also a guest commentator on many different radio shows and current affairs programs on television. Until 2012, he was a reporter and commentator on Arab affairs for the Haaretz newspaper. He also lectures on modern Palestinian history at Tel Aviv University, and is currently writing a script for an action-drama series for the Israeli satellite Television "YES." Born in Jerusalem, he graduated cum laude from Ben Gurion University with a B.A. in Middle Eastern studies and then earned his M.A. from Tel Aviv University on the same subject, also cum laude. A fluent Arabic speaker, Avi was the Middle East Affairs correspondent for Israeli Public Radio covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the war in Iraq and the Arab countries between the years 2003-2006. Avi directed and edited short documentary films on Israeli television programs dealing with the Middle East. In 2002 he won the "best reporter" award for the "Israel Radio” for his coverage of the second intifada. In 2004, together with Amos Harel, he wrote "The Seventh War - How we won and why we lost the war with the Palestinians." A year later the book won an award from the Institute for Strategic Studies for containing the best research on security affairs in Israel. In 2008, Issacharoff and Harel published their second book, entitled "34 Days - The Story of the Second Lebanon War," which won the same prize.

Israeli soldiers patrol along the beach front near the Israel-Gaza border on Wednesday, July 9, 2014. (photo credit: AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
Israeli soldiers patrol along the beach front near the Israel-Gaza border on Wednesday, July 9, 2014. (photo credit: AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

At the request of the United States, officials from the Palestinian Authority approached Hamas to try to broker a Hamas-Israel ceasefire deal, to no avail, Palestinian sources told The Times of Israel on Thursday.

American diplomats led by Philip Gordon, Special Assistant to the President and White House Coordinator for the Middle East, visited Ramallah on Wednesday and held talks with PA officials, senior Palestinian officials said. The Americans urged the PA to reach out to Hamas in an effort to put an end to its rocket fire on Israel. PA officials indeed spoke to Hamas, but were told that “there’s nothing to talk about.”

The Palestinian officials said the US diplomats also met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who also expressed no interest in a ceasefire. Netanyahu does not want American mediation, or anybody else’s, and indicated that he intends to continue the conflict with Hamas, the officials said.

Palestinian sources also said that Norway’s ambassador in Cairo met with Moussa Abu Marzouk, the deputy head of the Hamas political bureau, and heard from him as well that Hamas was not seeking a ceasefire. The sources said it is clear that the Hamas military wing is dictating developments to the Hamas political leadership. And the military wing is refusing to discuss a ceasefire, the sources said.

According to the sources, the Hamas military wing is desperate to see the Rafah border crossing reopened, to ensure the transfer of funds that are critical to the well-being of its regime and to move closer to Egypt and warm up the deadlocked relations.

Another goal is to undermine Mahmoud Abbas’s leadership, the sources said, adding that the military wing does not want Hamas to continue the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation process once this conflict is over.

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