Egypt : comprehensive truce agreement between Hamas and Israel is so close 

Bethlehem / PNN /

Palestinian and Hebrew media sources said Friday morning that Israel’s government has vowed to the Egyptian intelligence not to assassinate the leader of Hamas, Saleh Aruri, who returned from Turkey to the Gaza Strip yesterday for peace talks.

Hamas officials arrived in Gaza to discuss ceasefire with Israel, which according to Lebanese paper Al Akhbar includes a sea port and airport for the strip in Egypt, improvements in living conditions for Palestinians in Gaza and millions in financial aid in return for an end to the ‘March of Return’ protests.

The Hamas website Safa said Friday this marks the first time all members of the political bureau have come together in Gaza.

Israel promised Egyptian intelligence not to harm Aarouri, who was accused by Israelis of being behind the killing of three Israelis after his release during Shalit’s prison exchange deal. He was deported to Turkey and has been threatened with assassination on multiple occasions.

Hamas officials have said guarantees were given that the delegation would not be targeted by Israel and that progress has been made toward a truce that could pave the way for a UN-led reconstruction of Gaza.

According to one Hebrew site, Egypt is making great efforts to reach a long-term truce agreement in Gaza.

The released details of the deal include the approval of the return of Saleh al-Arouri, who is the Deputy Head of the Hamas Political Bureau. al-Arouri arrived in Gaza for consultations with the head of the Hamas movement Ismail Haniyeh and haeds  Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades the armed wing of Hamas.

Israel promised Egypt and the Bulgarian mediator Nikolai Maladanov, the UN envoy, that there will be no assassination attempt to al-Arouri.

However, he remains on the wanted list, accused by Israel of responsibility for past attacks in which dozens of Israelis were killed.

 

The Hebrew site stated that the stabilization efforts in Gaza include a comprehensive package of economic assistance and rehabilitation for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, to which the United States would generously donate to help the Gazan population, on the condition that there will be a long-term military ceasefire.

Earlier this week, Israeli sources reported that the Israeli government would meet on Sunday to hear details of the arrangements being made as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu canceled his trip to South America due to the recent developments in Egyptian mediation between Hamas and Israel.

On the other hand, the Hebrew site also stated that Egypt continues mediation efforts to reach reconciliation between Abu Mazen and Hamas leaders in Gaza, where Hamas announced that it will not accept a settlement that will require its disarmament, and the cessation of armed resistance against Israel and transferring control of the Gaza Strip to the Palestinian Authority and the Fatah movement.

“These are unacceptable demands that run counter to Palestinian interests,” a Hamas spokesperson said.

For his part the political editor of Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper noted that the details of the plan for a truce between Israel and Hamas include stopping the demonstrations against the fence, easing the siege on Gaza and increasing the flow of electricity to it.

The truce also provides for the establishment of a sea and airport for Gaza in Egypt under the supervision of the United Nations. A new power plant in Sinai will be built and the Gaza power plant will be renovated.

As for a prisoner swap, Levy quoted a senior Israeli security official as saying the deal would only be made after the previous agreements had been implemented.

According to Al Akhbar, the first stage of the ceasefire agreement will come into effect within a week and will include an end to “March of Return” protest activities on the Israel-Gaza border.

In return, the Kerem Abu Salem border crossing will resume activity and the Rafah border crossing with Egypt will be reopened on a more permanent basis.

The second stage will include the improvement of living conditions in the Gaza Strip and the complete removal of the blockade, according to the Lebanese paper.

Israel will allow the transfer of goods into the strip and increase the electricity it provides Gaza.

The third stage of the plan, according to the report, will include the launch of UN humanitarian projects already proposed in the past, including the construction of a sea port for Gaza in Ismailia, Egypt, operating an airport for the strip in Sinai, as well as the construction of a power plant in the Egyptian peninsula. In addition, the reconstruction of Gaza will go ahead.

Most of the Hamas leadership is based in Gaza but was joined by exiled members of the group’s political bureau, including Saleh al-Arouri, a founder of the Hamas military wing in the West Bank and a mastermind of violent attacks against Israelis in the past; Hamas’s spokesman abroad Husam Badran; senior Hamas official Mousa Abu Marzouk; and Hamas official Izzat al-Rishq.

Deputy Hamas leader in Gaza, Khalil al-Hayya, accompanied the delegation to Cairo and returned with it to Gaza on Thursday.