Arabic-Language Newspaper Publishes Pending Hamas Deal with Israel
Most of the details of the ceasefire agreement that Egypt has been negotiating with Israel have been published in the Arabic language Al-Akhbar newspaper based in Lebanon and considered to have ties to Hamas. If what was published is accurate, the violence along the Israel-Gaza border will dissipate, but Hamas will walk away with bragging rights for having forced major concessions from Jerusalem. According to the paper, ten provisions are not included in the draft which was constructed in a way that renders each provision dependent upon the fulfillment of the preceding item. The arrangement will begin with a winddown of hostilities enforced by Hamas and including punishment for those whose violent behavior persists. Israel, however, will allow non-violent demonstrations to continue until the year’s end as long as the Monday flotilla demonstrations cease. Major achievements for Hamas include Israel lifting a considerable portion of the blockade of the Gaza Strip — some 70% of the siege until the riots are completely halted – and Gaza’s fishing fleet will be permitted to fish as far out as 14 miles from shore. Also, in Hamas’s column is the provision that keeps the crossing points open permanently and if Qatar pays the salaries of Hamas officials and the Palestinian Authority pays 80 per cent of public workers’ salaries, Israel will allow 5,000 under-40s to receive work permits. Israel appears to have conceded on the issue of a prisoner exchange, discussions for which will only begin after the above conditions are met. But given the vows by officials after the Gilad Shalit deal that there would be no more lopsided exchanges, observers are already concluding that Jerusalem has at least partially capitulated in order to get the exchange on the docket. It is notable that the PA is not part of the agreement which by itself is a victory for Hamas.