Israeli media is reporting that indirect talks have been under way on a long-term cease-fire in the Gaza Strip. According to the Haaretz report:
Far from the public’s eye, negotiations are happening that could, under certain conditions, effect an important change on the Palestinian front. The indirect talks between Israel and Hamas on a long-term cease-fire in the Gaza Strip, which have been reported primarily in the Arab media, are ultimately likely to produce an agreement. Such a deal, if achieved, would significantly affect the balance of power among Israel, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, and could also affect the close ties between Israel and Egypt.
The talks have been conducted intermittently for months. Media reports say numerous intermediaries are involved, including officials from the United Nations, Europe and Qatar. Thus the talks are happening via several different channels, with only partial coordination among them.
The goal is to extract a commitment to a humanitarian cease-fire from Hamas, perhaps accompanied by third-party guarantees. Hamas would promise to refrain from any hostilities against Israel for a given period, possibly three to five years. In exchange, Israel would significantly ease its partial blockade on Gaza and take other steps to help Gaza’s economy. Later – though this seems unlikely – Israel might even reconsider ideas it has rejected in the past, like letting a seaport be built in Gaza under external supervision.
Such a deal could appeal to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, because it would enable him to portray last summer’s war in Gaza as a long-term achievement instead of a highly controversial, unfinished job. Just as former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert retroactively defended a much worse war, the Second Lebanon War of 2006, by boasting of the quiet on the northern border since then, Netanyahu could retroactively justify the Gaza war on similar grounds and say Hamas’ agreement to a long-term cease-fire proved that Israel won.
Read the rest here.
The GMBDW reported in April on comments by Hamas political leader Khalid Meshaal in which he claimed that Hamas has accepted the basis for a “two-state solution.” However, we also reported in April that a senior Hamas official had said that Hamas is not just seeking the end to any Israeli control over Gaza but rather wants to control all of Palestine.
For more on Hamas, go here.