Rassegna Stampa Elezioni Israeliane 2009

Monitoraggio attraverso i media internazionali delle elezioni in Israele del Febbraio 2009

Hamas claims accord is close with Israel

Posted by claudiacampli su 13 febbraio, 2009


Friday, February 13, 2009

JERUSALEM: Hamas officials said Friday that an announcement of an 18-month cease-fire with Israel was days away and would include a substantial opening of Gaza’s borders with Israel in exchange for an end to Hamas rocket attacks on southern Israeli communities. But a senior Israeli official said nothing had been agreed yet.

Meanwhile, rockets were fired into Israel on Friday, causing no damage or injuries, and Israeli warplanes struck the southern Gaza city of Khan Yunis, wounding two Popular Resistance Committee fighters.

Israel and Hamas had a six-month cease-fire mediated by Egypt starting last June, but it was repeatedly violated and after it ended, Israel mounted a three-week air, land and sea assault on Gaza. About 1,300 Palestinians were killed and thousands of buildings and homes destroyed.

The new prospective accord, again being mediated by Egypt, is aimed at rebuilding Gaza after the war and involves both reconstruction and reconciliation between Hamas and the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority, according to Ismael Ridwan, a Hamas spokesman.

He said among the materials that would be allowed to flow into Gaza in the new arrangement were cement and steel, which Egypt would monitor. Those materials are desperately needed for rebuilding, but the agreement would not allow pipes, cables and chemicals that Israel fears could be used for bombs.

Israel wanted to include the release of Corporal Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier seized and held by Hamas since the summer of 2006, but Hamas said that would only happen in a separate, if linked, deal that frees hundreds of Palestinians held in Israeli prisons.

The director of Hamas’s political bureau in Syria, Khaled Meshal, said that there was no agreement about Shalit and that Israel was trying to link his release with opening the border crossings into Gaza.

“We are opposed to that, and we have made that clear to the Egyptian authorities,” Meshal said in an interview on Libyan television. He was in Tripoli to thank the Libyan leader for his support for Hamas during the Gaza war.

Meshal’s deputy, Moussa Abu Marzouk, told the Egyptian state news agency Friday that an 18-month truce with Israel had been agreed on and that it would include opening the crossings into Gaza from Israel and would be announced within two days.

But the senior Israeli official, who plays a key role in such negotiations and speaks only on condition of anonymity, said that all of this was premature because Israel’s elections last Tuesday put off any serious consideration of Hamas’s offer, and that consultations would only start again next week.

“We are only allowing humanitarian aid into Gaza and that has not changed,” the Israeli official said. “Egypt has not yet come to us with the details of what it discussed with Hamas.” Amos Gilad, Israel’s negotiator with Egypt on the truce, is expected to head back to Cairo at the start of the coming week.

Israel is concerned about guarantees that Hamas is not rearming through smuggling tunnels from Egypt or on the international arms market; Israeli officials will be looking for evidence in the new deal that such resupplying has been stopped.

A Western diplomat in Israel who said he had seen both Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and key defense officials Thursday noted that nothing had yet been agreed or seemed imminent between Hamas and Israel.

One reason the Hamas officials seemed confident that a deal was at hand was because Egypt had already heard Israel’s concerns before its latest round of talks with Hamas. Therefore, an Egyptian intelligence official said, the offer on its way back to Israel was based on its earlier conditions.

The Israeli election, whose result remains inconclusive, showed a shift to the right in the electorate and the growing likelihood that Benjamin Netanyahu of Likud would form a new government, either in a coalition with the centrist Kadima party led by the current foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, or as head of a right-wing coalition. That shift seems to have driven the Palestinian Authority to seek reconciliation with Hamas in despair of any peace deal with the Israelis.

Hamas, which is Islamist, and the Palestinian Authority, dominated by Fatah, a more secular and pro-Western party, have not been on speaking terms since Hamas routed Fatah in a four-day war in Gaza in June 2007.

Kamal Shirafi, an adviser to the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, of Fatah, said the Palestinian Authority was losing confidence in its ability to work with Israel and that reconciliation with Hamas was one result.

Senior leaders of the two groups have met several times in recent days and plan a much larger gathering aimed at reconciliation in Cairo on Feb. 22. In a statement issued Thursday, leaders of the two factions said each had agreed to stop inciting against the other, to find ways to release each other’s prisoners and to keep meeting.

Taghreed el-Khodary contributed reporting from Gaza.


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