Report: Hamas mulling long-term ceasefire with Israel

Gaza-based group officials met in Qatar to discuss truce proposal, Palestinian Al-Quds newspaper says

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

Leading members of Gaza-based terrorist group Hamas convened in Qatar over the past several days to discuss a proposal for a long-term ceasefire with Israel, the Palestinian Al-Quds newspaper reported Monday.

According to Palestinian officials quoted by the paper, Hamas representative Moussa Abu Marzouk went to the Qatari capital of Doha on Saturday in the hopes of finalizing a three-to-five year truce with the Jewish state.

The truce proposal, which is backed by both Qatar and Turkey, is based on an outline formulated by UN special envoy to the Middle East Nikolay Mladenov, according to the Israeli NRG news site.

In March, The Times of Israel reported that Qatar’s representative to the Gaza strip, Muhammad al-Ahmadi, met with top Israeli and Hamas officials to arbitrate a deal, according to Palestinian sources in Gaza and Ramallah.

The Qatari proposal pushed by Ahmadi involves a long-term ceasefire, ending the blockade of Gaza, inviting Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his government back into the Strip and giving him control of the border crossings, rehabilitating Gaza, and constructing a seaport and an airport.

The truce proposal reportedly includes a clause regarding the establishment of a seaport in Gaza, NRG reported. The port, according to the proposal, will be subject to Israeli or international supervision.

Some Hamas officials told The Times of Israel in March that they would not oppose such a resolution.

Senior Israeli officials said that they would be prepared to mull over the proposals and that they, too, do not rule out the possibility of a long-term ceasefire deal with Hamas

The NRG report added that Abu Marzouk held a series of meetings in Qatar with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal as well as other senior officials in the organization.

Israel and Hamas have maintained a tacit ceasefire since late August in a deal brokered by Egypt that ended 50 days of fighting. The calm has been tested in recent weeks, though, as Salafist groups have fired rockets from Gaza into Israel, drawing Israeli airstrikes on Hamas facilities.

Israel holds Hamas, which is the defacto ruler in the Strip, responsible for all rocket fire.

Since 2009, Israel and Hamas have fought three large scale conflicts, including last summer’s Operation Protective Edge. Analysts say neither side is interested in a new war, though Israeli officials have pointed to signs of Hamas rearming and digging new tunnels that may be used for sneak attacks into Israeli territory.

The UN Human Rights Council has been conducting an investigation into the actions of both Israel and Palestinian organizations during last summer’s bloody conflict. Its report is expected to be published in the coming days, and the council is scheduled to debate it on June 29.

More than 2,100 Palestinians, many of them civilians, were killed during the 50-day war killed, according to Palestinian sources in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip; and 73 Israelis, including 66 soldiers. Israel maintains almost half of the Palestinians killed were combatants and blames Hamas for civilian deaths since military infrastructure was placed in residential areas.

In a report released Sunday, Israel defended its conduct in the July-August Gaza war against Hamas, calling it both “lawful” and “legitimate.”

At the same time officials in Jerusalem have painted the UN inquiry, with which they refused to cooperate, as a pre-written biased attempt to smear Israel.

The UN has said Israel was responsible for the deadly bombing of several UN institutions, including schools, in which displaced Palestinian civilians were sheltering.

Israel says that terrorists used schools to store weapons, and fired rockets from the vicinity of such sites.

The Jewish state has long had a stormy relationship with the UNHRC, which it sees as anti-Israeli, and fiercely opposed the Gaza probe from the start.

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