Report: Officials Pessimistic Over Hamas Ceasefire Talks

YERUSHALAYIM -
Palestinian rioters during clashes with Israeli security forces on the Gaza Israeli border east Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on August 17. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Talks on the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas are set to restart this week, after a one week hiatus for an Arab festival. Israeli officials quoted by Yediot Acharonot, however, said they were pessimistic that the talks would lead to an actual ceasefire. According to the officials, the gaps between what Israel is willing to give and what Hamas is demanding are too great to be overcome.

The deal being brokered by Egypt and the United Nations is said to include greater liberalization of the shipment of goods into Gaza, in exchange for quiet on the Gaza border. Also said to be on the agenda is the return of four Israelis held by Hamas, in exchange for the release of Hamas terrorists, and the construction of a seaport and/or airport for Gaza.

It is apparently that last point that is the main roadblock, the report said, as Hamas is unwilling to release the Israelis – including the remains of IDF soldiers Oron Shaul, Hy”d, and Hadar Goldin, Hy”d. Hamas is also opposed to the second part of the deal – the portion relating to the Palestinian Authority, which is demanding that it take over civilian administration in Gaza, something Hamas is not willing to concede.

If the talks do fall apart, the sources said, Israel would need to prepare itself for more intensive fighting against Hamas, which would probably again fire its missiles at Israel. In the event that happens, the IDF would consider a major operation against Hamas, although a final decision has not been made yet.

Opposed to any deal are residents and farmers in the border communities, who on Friday met with Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman to express their demand that the IDF enter Gaza and hit Hamas hard. Liberman told the group that he was not involved in the ceasefire negotiations. “I do not believe in ceasefire agreements. The only ‘agreement’ I will accept is the situation on the ground. If there is quiet that means there is a ceasefire. In the past few days we have seen that there is quiet, which means that Hamas is in complete control of what is going on,” he said.

Liberman added that he wanted Gaza residents to understand the connection between a lack of terror and advancement of their economy. “If there is terror, they will not have an economy, and if there is no terror they will have an economy. There is a direct connection, that is the message I am trying to convey to Gaza residents. This is an important message for the average Gazan who is trying to feed his family.”