Several reports indicate that Hamas is seeking a ceasefire with Israel in exchange for a floating seaport and in order to focus on the challenges it faces within Gaza.
By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News
Widely circulated reports indicate that the Hamas terror organization, which rules the Gaza Strip, is seeking a long-term ceasefire with Israel, with some citing a period of three to five years.
Quoting Egyptian officials, the Palestinian Ma’an news agency reported Tuesday that senior Hamas leader Mousa Abu Marzouq left the Gaza Strip on Sunday for the Qatari capital of Doha through Egypt, where he is scheduled to propose a long-term ceasefire agreement to Hamas chief-in-exile Khalid Mashal.
Officials say that Abu Marzouq traveled via Egypt with the consent of the Egyptian national security department.
According to the same sources, he met in Gaza recently with former Bulgarian foreign minister Nickolay Mladenov, who serves as the UN’s top Middle East envoy. According to the Egyptian sources, they reached a long-term ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas.
“Both Hamas and Israel understand the importance of a ceasefire agreement so they can face the fundamentalist Salafi groups in the Gaza Strip, which recently announced support to ISIS [the Islamic State terror organization],” an Egyptian official stated.
The Israeli NRG news site mentioned similar remarks by Palestinian and Hamas sources.
The report noted that several European officials have visited Gaza recently with Israeli approval and discussed the issue of a ceasefire with Hamas officials. Turkey and Qatar, both close supporters of Hamas, have reportedly voiced support for the truce.
The agreement reportedly includes Israeli consent to the construction of a new seaport floating off the coast of Gaza under Israeli and international supervision.
NRG quotes Hamas sources who denied the report on Tuesday, stating that they are not conducting a direct dialogue with Egypt on the issue.
On its part, Israel has not yet consented to the agreement and was not even presented with the option, according to NRG.
Abu Marzouq visited Qatar more than two months ago, where he discussed the issue with Mashal, Ma’an reports.
Resurfacing reports on a pending ceasefire
Similar reports on the possibility of a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas had surfaced in April. Both parties were allegedly holding a secret channel of communication under European mediation.
Israeli defense establishment officials believe that the absence of a dialogue with Hamas, aimed at easing living conditions in Gaza, would lead to armed conflict in the summer, in which case Operation Protective Edge would be perceived as a colossal failure.
Hamas is reportedly seeking to rehabilitate the Strip, improve living standards and stabilize its rule in Gaza, and is therefore forced to formulate this agreement.
Israel and Hamas, as well as Egypt, are seeking to focus their attention on suppressing the Salafist terror threat and are therefore seeking a regional ceasefire to enable such an effort.
Hamas and Egypt have recently arrived at a point of reconciliation for this explicit reason.