Arab media reports Wednesday said Egypt was pushing Hamas and Islamic Jihad to accept a deal for a long-term truce with Israel. The arrangement would last for five years, with the terror groups committing not to fire rockets at Israel, in exchange for Israeli concessions.
Top terrorists for the organizations are currently in Cairo, where they joined negotiating teams that have been working on the deal, the reports said. Egyptian officials exerted pressure on the terror groups at a meeting on Tuesday to accept the deal. The Egyptians are said to have presented the terror groups with a list of steps Israel is prepared to take to make the deal happen.
Both Hamas and Israel have denied that such a deal was in the works. On Wednesday, a spokesperson for Hamas said that there was no deal with Israel, and that no discussions on a deal were taking place. Speaking Tuesday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu also said that no deal was on the table. “There will be no long-term arrangement with Gaza as long as the ‘drip’ of rockets from Gaza continues,” Netanyahu said, referring to the numerous firings of one or two rockets a day at Israel that Gaza terror groups continue to engage in.
Reports in recent days said that talks between Israel and Hamas were continuing on an arrangement that would lead to a cessation of rocket attacks on Israel. According to the report, both sides are “serious” about reducing tension, as the Gaza terror group has decided that at this time it needs to worry about the welfare of Gaza residents. The deal would include the return of missing Israelis held by Hamas in exchange for the release of terrorists, and the establishment of a water purification plant in Gaza.
Also said to be in the offing is construction of an artificial island off the coast of Gaza. The island would be built five kilometers out to sea and include a port and cargo terminal, where cargo could be inspected for security purposes before being trucked across a bridge to Gaza. The idea was first floated by Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz several years ago. “An artificial island will provide Gaza residents with access to the world, and it could include facilities for power generation or water desalination,” according to Katz. “We could even consider an airport in the future. We have an interest in helping Gaza develop, but we know who Hamas is, and thus we must remain in charge of security,” Katz added.