PA official: We’re hoping for ceasefire within 48 hours

Nabil Shaath, sent to Gaza Sunday by Mahmoud Abbas, tells The Times of Israel that the PA is in no way involved in negotiations

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

Nabil Shaath at his Ramallah office, January 18, 2012 (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Nabil Shaath at his Ramallah office, January 18, 2012 (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

A ceasefire between Israel and Hamas may be as near as 48 hours away, according a senior member of Fatah, sent to Gaza from the West Bank Sunday evening to welcome an Arab League delegation.

Nabil Shaath, Fatah’s commissioner for international relations and a member of the Palestinian negotiating team, was personally sent to Gaza by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to express solidarity with Gaza’s residents.

Fatah and Hamas have been at odds since the Islamic movement took control of the Gaza Strip in a violent coup in 2007, two years after Israel withdrew its forces from it and dismantled all of its settlements. Hamas has since repeatedly prevented the entry of Fatah officials into Gaza.

“We hope that a ceasefire will be finalized within 48 hours, by the time the Arab League delegation arrives in Gaza,” Shaath told The Times of Israel. “I have no final information on this, but I’m sure that if it were left to the Egyptians and the residents of Gaza, a ceasefire would be reached within an hour.”

The Arab League delegation of foreign ministers will be headed by Secretary General Nabil Al-Arabi, AFP reported Sunday.

Shaath said that, as a native of Gaza, it was only natural that he be sent to welcome the international delegation.

The Palestinian Authority is in no way involved in the ceasefire negotiations with Hamas, which are led by Egypt and include Qatar and Turkey, he said. But Shaath added that he is regularly updated on developments by Hamas political official Moussa Abu Marzouq, based in Cairo, as well as by the Egyptian General Intelligence Agency.

On November 8, senior Hamas official Mahmoud Al-Zahar told the London-based daily al-Quds al-Arabi that Hamas objected to a planned visit by PA President Mahmoud Abbas to Gaza “for security reasons.”

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