by Daniel Siryoti, Ariel Kahana, Gadi Golan, News Agencies and Israel Hayom Staff
Although Hamas officials describe Egyptian efforts to broker comprehensive agreement, Housing Minister Yoav Gallant says talks focus on cease-fire, not full arrangement
Construction and Housing Minister Yoav Gallant
Photo: Roni Shutzer
Construction and Housing Minister Yoav Gallant on Monday played down the significance of the current Egyptian-mediated cease-fire talks with Hamas, suggesting that any deal would be limited in scope.
Gallant's assessment appeared to fall short of what Hamas officials have described as Egyptian efforts to broker a comprehensive agreement, including a significant easing of the 11-year blockade on the enclave and provisions for a U.N.-led reconstruction of the territory.
Gallant said the issue currently under debate is a cease-fire, not a full-scale arrangement.
"There is no progress toward an agreement," he told Army Radio Monday, a day after Israel's Diplomatic-Security Cabinet discussed proposals on Gaza for several hours. Gallant attended the meeting.
The difference in perceptions suggests that chances for a comprehensive agreement are slim.
Tensions between Israel and Hamas, the terrorist group that rules Gaza, have escalated since late March, when Hamas launched weekly mass protests along the border fence.
In recent weeks, Israel has tightened its blockade on Gaza in response to incessant arson attacks, in which Palestinian terrorists launch incendiary devices across the border into Israeli communities. The latest Israeli restrictions included the suspension of fuel shipments through Gaza's only cargo crossing.
Galant said the security cabinet discussed gestures such as easing the latest restrictions in exchange for a truce.
Meanwhile, inter-Palestinian divisions are stalling mediation efforts, officials in the Palestinian Authority and Egypt said on Monday.
One senior Egyptian official, familiar with Egypt's talks with Hamas, Israel and the PA, told Israel Hayom that a high-ranking Egyptian security delegation could be dispatched to Gaza in an attempt to resolve some of the disagreements within the Palestinian camp.
According to the official, the main divisions are currently between Hamas' political wing – which supports a diplomatic arrangement in Gaza comprising a long-term cease-fire as proposed by Egypt and the United Nations' Middle East envoy – and the group's military wing, which believes that only a military campaign against Israel can end the "siege" on Gaza.
Hamas accuses PA President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah faction of intentionally torpedoing inter-Palestinian reconciliation efforts and of eschewing the implementation of understandings reached with Egypt's help. Fatah accuses Hamas of discounting Palestinian national interests.
Fatah issued a statement saying, "The shameful negotiations Hamas leaders are conducting with the Zionist occupation government essentially ratifies the most important clauses in [U.S. President Donald] Trump's 'deal of the century,' which will lead to the burial of Palestinian national enterprise.
"These talks isolate the legitimate Palestinian leadership, as happened during [Israel's] disengagement from Gaza [in 2005], which was undertaken without any coordination with the lawful Palestinian leadership."
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