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Hamas Denies Emerging of Long-term Cease-fire with Israel

Hamas has denied an Israeli report that it is close to signing a long-term cease-fire agreement with Jerusalem. Media claimed that Israel’s Security Cabinet on Sunday received a briefing on the prospective deal’s terms, which include a complete halt to Hamas hostilities in return for the easing of the joint Israeli-Egyptian blockade on the Gaza Strip. Israel would also reportedly contribute to major infrastructure projects in the Palestinian enclave and is rumored to be considering building an offshore port that would act as a hub for the entry of goods into the coastal territory. Israel Defense Forces leaders believe that the time is ripe to forge a long-term truce, noting, for example, Hamas’ decision to stay on the sidelines during November’s major 48-hour confrontation between Israel and Islamic Jihad. Hamas has also canceled the “March of Return” border protests for about three months, another indication the terror group does want to risk a possible conflict with Israel. Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority has slammed the emerging détente, accusing Hamas of attempting to consolidate its rule in Gaza and thereby reinforce the divide with Mahmoud Abbas’ West Bank-based regime. Ironically, Ramallah has similarly claimed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is trying to empower Hamas in order to diminish the viability of a future Palestinian state encompassing both the West Bank and Gaza Strip.