Reports of Separate Hamas Deal With Israel Has PA Worried

YERUSHALAYIM -

Reports of an imminent long-term ceasefire between Israel and Hamas have led Palestinian Authority officials to warn that such an agreement would lead to a separate Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip.

Unconfirmed reports say that Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair have reached a deal in principle that would allow for the creation of a sea passage between Cyprus and the Gaza Strip. The two were said to be meeting in Qatar’s capital of Doha.

Israel denied the reports. “There are no negotiations on a long-term cease-fire with Hamas,” a diplomatic official told Walla News. “Not through Turkey, not through Qatar, not by Tony Blair or any other means.”

Blair was negotiating on behalf of Israel, according to the story. But the official emphasized that if any private parties are in contact with Hamas, it is not with the authority of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

Fatah officials are alarmed nevertheless.

Fatah spokesman Ahmed Assaf said that “this would achieve Israel’s strategic goal of killing the idea of establishing an independent Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with Yerushalayim as its capital. Hamas wants to win Israeli recognition at the cost of the Palestinian national project.”

Assaf said that the Oslo Accords and subsequent agreements with Israel allow Palestinians to have their own seaport in the Gaza Strip. He claimed that both Yasser Arafat and his successor, Mahmoud Abbas, had rejected the Israeli plan to establish a sea passage to the Gaza Strip that would be under Israel’s security, political and economic control.

He urged Palestinians to oppose the “Hamas-Blair conspiracy to slice off the Gaza Strip and eliminate Palestinian rights.”