Amidst swirling rumors of an imminent Gaza ceasefire announcement, The Times of Israel reports that representatives of the Palestinian Authority headed by intelligence chief Majed Faraj and Egyptian representatives have met in Cairo to discuss possible amendments to an Egyptian ceasefire proposal.
Faraj, who was present at the recent meeting in Qatar between Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashaal and PA President Mahmoud Abbas, left Doha shortly thereafter in haste for Cairo. US Secretary of State John Kerry and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon are on their way to the region to try to hammer out a ceasefire agreement.
According to various Palestinian sources, Mashaal agreed to the Egyptian proposal of an immediate Gaza ceasefire but still demanded the inclusion of various contentious terms, foremost of which is a call to remove the blockade of Gaza. Mashaal even demanded guarantees for the removal of the blockade not just from Egypt, but from the PA and the United States. Significantly, Mashaal didn’t insist on inclusion of Hamas’s other demands expressed over the past two weeks, namely the opening of the Rafah Border Crossing with Egypt, freedom for prisoners released in the Shalit deal who were recently taken back into Israeli custody, establishment of an international port and others.
If this version of the deal is accepted, it means that Hamas significantly scaled back its demands for a ceasefire on its terms.
Though until now no official Hamas position has been expressed on the issue, sources in the PA claim that the Hamas organization agrees to the version agreed upon by Mashaal and Abbas.
Abbas is expected to meet with US Secretary of State John Kerry and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon tomorrow in Cairo, and an announcement of a long-term humanitarian truce along these lines may follow.