While last weeks’ Egypt-brokered ceasefire between Israel and Hamas has curbed cross-border hostilities, critical negotiations this week will establish its long-term effect.And while Hamas and Israeli officials meet in Egypt to hammer out key issues, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will seek “non-member state” status in a UN General Assembly vote on Thursday.
Israel has been largely silent about the ceasefire even as Hamas has done and said several things to shape the boundaries of the agreement.
• In a surprise move, Hamas has backed Abbas’ attempt to make Palestine a UN non-member state. The is the second time in a week — the first being a bombing in Tel Aviv claimed by Fatah of the Palestinian Liberation organisation and commended by Hamas — that the rival groups governing the West Bank and Gaza Strip have shown unity.
• Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal said the deal included an agreement to open all four goods crossings that used to operate before 2006, but the agreement only says that procedures of implementation “shall be dealt with after 24 hours from the start of the ceasefire.” Several analysts cited the border crossing when they argued that Hamas got the better deal in the truce.
• Gaza farmers tilled land in the 1,000-foot “buffer zone” on Gaza’s northern and eastern borders—the same area where Israeli soldiers killed a Palestinian and wounded 19 on Friday—and Gaza fisherman traveled six miles off the coast, passing the limit imposed on them three years ago.
“The Israeli army naval boat which used to fire and torch Palestinian boats that sailed beyond a 3-mile distance watched without doing anything to prevent them,” a fisherman told Reuters.
• Senior Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar told reporters that Islamists in Gaza will “continue to bring in weapons by all possible means” and that he expected expected Iran would “increase its military and financial support to Hamas.” Last week Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel would work with the U.S. to prevent “terror organisations” from are rearming themselves.
“Hamas is definitely trying to score points here,” Mkhaimar Abusada, a political scientist at Al Azhar University in Gaza City, told The New York Times. “Hamas is trying to say that the cease-fire is in the interest of Hamas and is in the interest of the Palestinians, that the cease-fire agreement is going to gradually put an end to the siege.”
How Israel reacts to the moves, and what it is willing to concede in negotiations, remains to be seen.
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