JNS.org – Egyptian mediators have made significant progress in the indirect negotiations between Hamas and Israel, and a ceasefire agreement could be signed by the end of next week, once the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha (“Festival of the Sacrifice”) ends, senior Hamas officials have told Israel Hayom.
According to the officials, the ceasefire understandings will include the restoration of longterm calm and a significant easing of the blockade on the Gaza Strip.
However, the officials said tensions are running high between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and Egyptian intelligence head Kamal Abbas, who is serving as the go-between for Israel and Hamas.
Hamas – defined by the United States, Israel and other countries as a terrorist group – violently seized control over the Gaza Strip in 2007, routing rival Fatah. With Abbas’ Fatah in power in the West Bank, the two Palestinian parties are in a struggle against each other for control.
A senior member of Abbas’ staff warned that “as long as there is no internal Palestinian reconciliation, under which full control of Gaza would be transferred to the Palestinian Authority, no ceasefire agreement will take effect.”
However, Hamas claims that Abbas and the PA leadership in Ramallah are heaping obstacles on Hamas in an attempt to topple it.
Meanwhile, arson terrorism perpetrated by Gaza protesters continued on Sunday as two wildfires erupted in southern Israel as a result of firebomb balloons launched over the border. One fire raged in the Beeri Forest and the second near Kibbutz Or HaNer.
Education Minister Naftali Bennett said Sunday that “Hamas is trying to extort money out of Israel, like the Italian mafia. Anyone who caves to intimidation will lead us to war.”